Emoni Bates, a sophomore forward and a Memphis transfer, had nine 3-pointers among 43 points for Eastern Michigan in the Eagles' 84-79 loss at Toledo on Tuesday night.
The former five-star recruit scored a whopping 29 points in the first half, including 27 straight to close the first half. Bates did not attempt a shot before his scoring barrage, in which he went 10 of 14, including 7 of 9 from the 3-point line, and made both free-throw attempts over the last 13 minutes before halftime.
Bates was unconscious from beyond the arc and showed the flash that NBA scouts have seen since he was in the ninth grade. Even LeBron James had to show love to the first high school sophomore to be named National Gatorade Player of the Year.
The game on CBS Sports Network showcased the exceeding talent the Michigan native possesses.
The top-ranked small forward in the class of 2022 began his college career at 17 at Memphis. In 18 games, with 13 starts, as a Tiger, Bates averaged 9.7 points per game while shooting 38.6%. A season hampered by a lower back injury and inconsistent minutes did not bode well for the teenager's confidence.
Bates transferred to be close to home. In his second game against in-state powerhouse Michigan, an 88-83 loss, Bates came to play, finishing with 30 points and five rebounds. It did not matter who the Wolverines chose to guard Bates, as he was able to get to his spots and let them hear about it.
Michigan coach Juwan Howard, who has watched Bates grow from being known as a fourth-grade phenom, spoke about the pressure on the prospects and how it is hard to adapt and adjust.
"I' ve seen the young man grow since the time he was put out there in the public news as what, I recall, the best fourth-grader in the country," Howard said. "With that I was like, 'OK, who's rating the best fourth-grader in the country?' but you see his growth each year.
"He starts getting compared to Kevin Durant, and that's hard for any young person. But give him credit for how he's worked on his game and his skill set. So, with that the shots he made I wasn't surprised, because I've seen him make a lot of tough shots."
The question since arriving at Memphis was will Emoni Bates ever show that he is worthy of an NBA lottery pick? Many mock drafts have Bates going in the second round, and with good reason. He is only one player, and his impact per game with the Eagles (4-16, 1-6 Mid-American Conference) has been seen in the box score, not necessarily in the win column.
He is also not playing in a Power Five conference. Granted, when he has played Power Five competition, he has come to play. He has not shown this year that he is without a shadow of a doubt a franchise cornerstone player. However, he has shown that he has upside. Averaging 1.1 assists per game, Bates must show he can create for others to continue to add to his arsenal. He averages 20.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.
We can only evaluate with a grain of salt as the next players leading EMU in scoring are Noah Farrakhan (12.9 ppg) and Tyson Acuff (12.4 ppg), Bates has not received ideally as much help as he would like. He's a player who hopefully will show more energy on defense, and that can be hard when he is putting out such a maximum effort offensively.
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