‘I have to show them love back’: Emoni Bates commits to Michigan State

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Tom Izzo/Photo: MSU Athletic Communications

Luke Sloan, Sports Director

EAST LANSING – Emoni Bates, the nation’s top overall player for the class of 2022, announced his verbal commitment to Michigan State basketball in front of a national audience on Monday afternoon.

“I’m not sure what my future my holds, but I do know as of right now I will be committed to Michigan State University,” Bates said on ESPN’s SportsCenter.

Bates led Ypsilanti Lincoln to its first-ever Division I state championship during his freshman season, averaging 28.5 points per game. The 6-foot-9, 200 pound guard/forward also became the first sophomore and youngest player to win the Gatorade High School National Player of the Year award at age 16.

Bates, who spent his first two high school seasons with the Railsplitters, will attend his father E.J. Bates’ newly-founded Ypsi Prep Academy entering his junior season. The 16-year-old Bates is ranked as a five-star recruit by ESPN, 247Sports and Rivals.

Other than the Spartans, Bates held offers from Michigan, Duke, Kentucky, Florida State, Georgia and DePaul. While other schools were tepid in their pursuit of Bates, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo was the only coach to call the prospect on June 15, when the NCAA’s recruiting dead period was lifted at midnight.

“They’ve been showing love to me since I was in the seventh grade,” Bates said. “They’ve been recruiting me hard since then, so I just know that they’re showing that they love me genuine and they have just been here for a long time. I’m big on loyalty, and they’ve shown me all loyalty, so I have to show them love back.”

Bates led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a 19-3 record during his sophomore season, a campaign in which he averaged 31 points and 10 rebounds per game. He scored 40 or more points five times during the pandemic-shortened season, including a 63-point performance on Feb 18.

“I was upset at first,” E.J. Bates said when asked about Emoni’s lack of recruiting attention, “but the one that he really wanted to go to was recruiting him heavily and they’ve been consistent the whole way, so as long as he got the offer that he wanted and wanted to participate at the school he actually wants to play for I’m happy.”

Bates, entering his junior season, will now suit up for Ypsi Prep Academy, a satellite campus of Aim High Academy. Bates’ new team will include some of the nation’s best talent and play a national schedule. Dillion Hunter, a five-star guard from Atlanta, Georgia, will be amongst those who join Bates at Ypsi Prep.

Bates is listed in the class of 2022 but will be eligible to graduate high school after the 2021 season. He will have the option to reclassify and attend Michigan State as part of its 2021 class if he chooses.

The high school phenom can also explore options to play professional basketball directly after high school, similar to 2020 five-star Jalen Green, a potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft. Green opted to spend the 2020-21 season with the NBA and G League’s development program over a number of blue-blood college programs.

There has been speculation that Bates may explore professional options after high school, and he prefaced his commitment to the Spartans by admitting he doesn’t know what the future holds.

But for Michigan State, Monday remains a significant day for the program. And for Izzo, Bates’ commitment will arguably go down as the best of the 65-year-old coach’s career. Bates is considered by experts to be the best player in the high school ranks, regardless of class, and the best high school prospect since LeBron James.