NBA

Former recruit Emoni Bates scores 29 straight points, gets love from LeBron James

Former recruit Emoni Bates scores 29 straight points, gets love from LeBron James

Emoni Bates looked like a star again for Eastern Michigan. (Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Once upon a time there was Emoni Bates the biggest name in amateur basketball. Little has gone according to plan since then, but that doesn’t mean he can’t play like a future superstar at times.

Bates, now suiting up at Eastern Michigan, showed his potential Tuesday with 29 straight points for the Eagles in a conference game against Toledo. In the process of going supernova, he made seven three-pointers and a pair of dunks:

Bates finished with 43 points on 15-of-23 shooting (9-of-14 from 3-point range) and seven rebounds.

Few MAC games draw NBA interest, but at least one notable figure was impressed by Bates’ display: Los Angeles Lakers star lebron jamesWHO has praised Bates since his high school days.

James isn’t the only NBA star taking note of Bates, like him has also attracted the attention of Kevin Durant since moving from Memphis. Bates was compared to both players during the apex of his high school career.

Emoni Bates is trying to find a new path to the NBA

Bates made history in 2020 when it was the first sophomore to be named Gatorade National Player of the Yearan award previously received by people like Jayson Tatum, Karl-Anthony Towns, Bradley Beal and, yes, James, who won it twice.

For a while, it looked like Bates might lead a new generation of pro-ready playersbut instead reclassified and landed with Penny Hardaway’s Memphis program as part of a historically good recruiting class.

Bates’ career as a Tiger wasn’t exactly stellar. At 17, he was the youngest player in college basketball and struggled to keep up with his peers. In an injury-limited first year, he averaged 9.7 points per game while shooting 38.6 percent from the field. It was a bad year for Memphis overall, but the Tigers were remarkably 10-2 in games without Bates and 12-9 with him.

That season ended with Bates entering the transfer window and heading to Eastern Michigan, located in his hometown of Ypsilanti, Michigan. That mandate began brutally when he he was arrested on weapons charges in Septemberbut he he eventually apologized and pleaded guilty to a lesser offense.

On the court, Bates has looked more like a top-tier recruit for the Eagles. He entered Tuesday averaging a team-high 19.3 points and 5.6 rebounds while shooting 34.4 percent from deep. Of course, those numbers are against the worst competition and for a team that entered the game 4-15, but Tuesday showed there’s still some star left in a player once considered a lock for NBA success.



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