Troy Brinkel, 20’ Sports Editor
Today is Feb. 18, 2020. I’m in attendance for a random high school game: Ypsilanti Lincoln hosting Chelsea. The teams have a decent audience watching—many more who I have ever seen attend a South Lyon game, and the reason why I’m here, the reason why everybody is here, is to see one player specifically: Emoni Bates. Bates is a 6’8, 200 pound sophomore in high school. He is one of the best basketball players I have ever seen at any level. The game carries on to double over time where Lincoln eventually pulls away behind Bates’ 63 points and 21 rebounds. Bates gets some high fives on his way out of the gym as me and the rest of the fans try to comprehend how a high school player just dominated a game that well. What does the future hold for Emoni?
Bates is the highest rated recruit out of high school since Lebron James; he won the Gatorade high school player of the year award this year — the first sophomore to ever win. What makes him so good? After attending three of his games, I have come to this justification: the small forward is played extremely well by Emoni. He’s slender at 6’8, looking like a bean poll, but he is a good athlete that bounces off the ground with ease. His offensive package is highly advanced for his age as it plays well off his height and abilities. He can score anywhere; I witnessed him drive and dunk or shoot the three: he seemed to be quite skilled with either. His ball handling and lateral quickness is stupid good. I would argue this feature sets him apart from most competition. This allows him to be a decent passer and good rebounder, putting zero weaknesses in his game. The only thing Bates lacks is strength, but at 15 years old, there is time for that; besides, if I were 6’8 I would probably be skinny too.
With basketball obviously in his future, where could Bates go after high school? The first reaction would be that he goes pro immediately out of high school. ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins said, “Bates would be a lottery pick in the [NBA] draft in 2020.” With this quote, Perkins is not incorrect; high school to the big league is a route taken by some of the best of all time: notably Lebron James and Kobe Bryant. However, going to college is not out of the question either. The slim Bates could find going to college to build strength a decent idea before pro ball. Further cementing this idea, he has taken many trips to East Lansing and Ann Arbor; the Lincoln star has seen and met with the two schools quite frequently, even Michigan State players Cassius Winston, Gabe Brown, and Aaron Henry seem to have become friends with the high school stand out. Capping this idea, Bates told Tipton Edits, “Michigan State has always been my dream school.”
In the end, it is important to note that Emoni is only going to be a junior in high school next year; the young 15-year-old is still growing his game and could change ideas on his future.
Photo courtesy of onlinegambling.com