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Emoni Bates commits to Michigan State basketball in ESPN: 'Their love is genuine'

Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Basketball

DETROIT -- Ypsilanti Lincoln basketball phenom Emoni Bates, the No. 1 prospect in the country for the 2022 class, committed to Michigan State basketball during a live interview on ESPN on Monday.

"I'm not sure what the future may hold," the 16-year-old said, "but as I do know right now, I will be committing to Michigan State University."

After his family members and high school coach put on MSU hats, Bates thanked coach Tom Izzo for "staying with me since I was a young 'un and being there throughout the process." He said the Spartans have recruited him since seventh grade.

"I know they're showing that their love is genuine," Bates said, "and they've just been here for a long time. I'm big on loyalty, and they showed me all loyalty, so I got to show them love back."

Bates averaged 31.6 points, nine rebounds and 2.6 assists per game during the 2019-20 season.

It's unclear whether Bates has plans to reclassify to the 2021 class, making him eligible to enter college a year ahead of schedule.

Elgin Bates, Emoni's father, announced on the ESPN interview that the family is in the process of creating a preparatory school, but it wasn't immediately clear what that news meant for Bates' enrollment at Ypsilanti Lincoln entering his junior year. Bates wore an "Ypsi Prep Academy" shirt on TV.

"I just think it's time to be in the situation we're in," Elgin said. "He can continue to grow and develop and also be around like-minded individuals who aspire to play on a higher level that's committed in the gym and that can also challenge him every day in practice."

Bates had scholarship offers from Michigan, Duke, Florida State, Georgia, Kentucky and DePaul, among others. Duke was the first to extend him an offer, when he was in eighth grade. Elgin Bates said he was disappointed more schools didn't reach out to his son, as it was once expected rule changes would allow Emoni to go straight to the NBA out of high school in 2022. Whether or not that actually will happen remains to be seen.

 

"I was upset at first," Elgin said, "but the one that he really wanted to go to was recruiting him consistently the whole way, so as long as he got the offer he wanted and got to play for the school he actually wants to play for, I'm happy."

The 6-foot-9, 205-pound recruit has been described as the top player in high school regardless of class dating back to his freshman year, when he won a state championship and secured the Michigan Gatorade Player of the Year award.

As a sophomore, he became the Gatorade National Player of the Year after his team finished 19-3 overall and 14-1 in league play. He scored 63 points and grabbed 21 rebounds in a double-overtime win Feb. 18 against Chelsea.

Former winners of the Gatorade National Player of the Year award include Chris Webber (1991), Kobe Bryant (1996), LeBron James (2002, 2003), Dwight Howard (2004), Greg Oden (2005, 2006), Bradley Beal (2011), Jabari Parker (2012), Andrew Wiggins (2013), Karl-Anthony Towns (2014), Ben Simmons (2015), Jayson Tatum (2016), RJ Barrett (2018) and James Wiseman (2019).

"It shows me that hard work pays off," Bates said.

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