Saturday night the eyes of the basketball world were on a 15U Nike EYBL game. The prep circuit circus wasn’t there for the next Ball brother. All of the commotion was for Bronny James and Emoni Bates.
With security guards controlling the crowd completely around the court, the next great basketball phenom scored 43 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, all while his opponent’s famous father, LeBron James, looked on from the sideline. Evan Daniels set the scene from Emoni Bates’ incredible performance:
With arguably the best player of all time cheering on his son on one end of the court, you couldn’t help but wonder if Bates is the best prospect to come through the high school ranks since LeBron played at Akron (Ohio) St. Vincent St. Mary.
Perhaps that’s a lot to put on a 15-year old’s shoulder, but it’s not farfetched. There’s been some terrific freshman since LeBron that went on to stardom. DeAndre Ayton and Marvin Bagley come to mind. OJ Mayo was as dominant a freshman I’ve seen. Kevin Durant and Jayson Tatum were phenoms at the same age.
Normally I’d be cautious with a player this early, but Bates is that good.
Daniels’ present-day description isn’t much different than what he told Kyle Tucker a year ago.
“It probably sounds insane that we’re even talking about a kid who just finished eighth grade,” says Evan Daniels, scouting director for 247Sports. “I never get interviewed about anyone that young. In fact, I have a rule that I won’t even watch players who aren’t in high school yet. But he’s different. I think he’s special. I saw that the first time I laid eyes on him. He’s the best freshman prospect I’ve ever seen.”
For those who have a subscription to The Athletic, you’ll learn why Bates could be the first player to jump straight into the NBA if the league drops its age restriction by 2022. Bates has not played much basketball, but the 6’7″ wing already has the tools of a future superstar. See for yourself:
If Emoni Bates cannot make the leap straight into the NBA, Michigan, Michigan State and Kentucky are already giving Bates their best pitch.