Emoni Bates is entering the NBA draft, banking on teams being intrigued with his potential as a scorer after seeing flashes of his talent in two seasons of college basketball.
Bates made the announcement Monday on social media.
“What I been dreaming for my whole life,” he posted on Instagram.
The 6-foot-10 wing averaged 19.2 points and 5.8 rebounds in 30 games at Eastern Michigan last season, making 40.5% of his shots overall and 33% of 3-point attempts.
“I’m excited for Emoni and his future,” Eagles coach Stan Heath told The Associated Press. “He is a talented young player who works extremely hard and is passionate to be successful.”
Bates is the No. 56 prospect in ESPN’s draft rankings.
After graduating from high school in three years and being regarded as a basketball prodigy, Bates went to Memphis for one season and averaged 9.7 points in 18 games during an injury-shortened season. He transferred to play for Eastern Michigan in his hometown of Ypsilanti.
“I know he will continue to improve and mature as he continues the journey,” Heath said. “There is no question his best basketball is ahead, and I support him on his decision.”
Bates will spend the next couple of months working out for NBA teams and answering their questions about his life on and off the court.
In September, he was charged with two felonies — carrying a concealed weapon and “altering ID marks” — after a traffic stop and was suspended by Eastern Michigan as a student and basketball player. His attorney said the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.
Bates was sentenced in December to 18 months of probation after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge, a conviction that will be expunged from his record if he completes probation successfully. He was reinstated to the school and to the basketball team in October after prosecutors agreed to drop felony charges against him.
Bates bounced back as a basketball player and at times during his sophomore season showed some of the skills that made him the first sophomore high school basketball player to win the Gatorade national player of the year award and landed him on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
He scored 29 straight points for Eastern Michigan in the first half of a loss last season at Toledo, where he finished with career highs in points (43) and 3-pointers (9) after making 15 of 23 shots.
In 2019 as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.
Bates initially committed to play for Tom Izzo at Michigan State. He later decommitted and signed with Memphis and coach Penny Hardaway.