The 6'8 high school freshman out of Ypsilanti Lincoln High School has been tagged as the No. 1 player in the 2022 class across the country. ESPN, Ballislife.com, SLAM Magazine, and more have been covering Emoni Bates and his potential to become an NBA star. Lincoln made a run in March to the reach the MHSAA boy's championship at the Breslin Center.
They defeated Detroit U-D Jesuit in the final and cemented a bright future for the next three years. Lincoln loses three top seniors this year, in Tahj Chatman, Amari Frye and Jalen Fisher, but they'll get back the best freshman in the nation. The 2018-2019 season had many memorable moments for Bates and the team. The Railsplitters finished with a 23-4 record and had three victories against rival Ypsilanti Community High School. The second game between the two schools had to be moved to the EMU Convocation Center on Feb. 15.
Now that Bates is playing AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) over the summer, it's possible for him to square up with some of the finest young stars in the United States. It also puts him in company with many NBA stars who took the same path as him, playing year round and traveling the country for more competition. Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum recently watched Bates plays in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball 15U tournament in Dallas, Texas.
LeBron James and his son Bronny Jr. also had their view of Bates when their teams played against each other in Indianapolis for an earlier session of the same Nike tournament.
Bates Fundamentals is the basketball training organization that his father E.J. manages. The AAU team sports the logo during tournaments, and No. 21 stands out as the main attraction. Not only has Bates generated millions of YouTube views and met with NBA talent but he might have the opportunity to hop right into the NBA in a few short years.
The NBA has had talks led by commissioner Adam Silver to eliminate the rule of having to be one year removed from high school in order to enter the NBA Draft. Usually athletes will play college basketball for one year before getting drafted. The eligibility rule was made in 2005, for the 2006 draft in the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. Bates wanted to stay home for high school at Lincoln, and the rule change may influence the path for either college or the NBA.
Bates still has three more years of high school ahead, but it'll be exciting to see what improvements he will make and how he'll develop his game going forward. And it's surely going to be documented as the 14-year-old continues to make noise on social media.