Emoni Bates won the Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year honors. But not only that, he became the youngest ever winner of this award.
“This is No. 1. This is a big, big award. This is my No. 1,”
Bates, a member of Ypsilanti Lincoln, is the first sophomore who took this award, and now has a chance to do something never seen before – to win it three times. Only three players won it twice, LeBron James, Brandon Knight, and Greg Oden.
Bates is according to the majority of the experts and scouts the biggest high-school talent since LeBron, and the fact that he won POY with 16 years (his birthday was on January 28), creates a lot of hype surrounding this fella.
Many see him as the new Kevin Durant due to physical similarities and fantastic offensive skillset. Bates is 6-foot-9 with 205 pounds and has a diverse attacking arsenal. He uses his body and athleticism in the best possible way and is also one hell of a shooter. Similar to Durant, the teenager is a lethal finisher, and when it comes to one-on-one situations, he simply can’t be stopped.
During this season, he averaged 31.6 points, 9 boards, and 2.6 assists, leading his Lincoln to the record of 19 wins and 3 losses. They were supposed to play the finals of District 18 state tournament against Ann Arbor Huron, but that event was canceled because of a COVID-19 pandemic.
When saying that this is his first big award, Bates forgot that he already won the MaxPreps National Freshman of the Year, for the best rookie in high school, and was Gatorade’s Player of the Year in Michigan in 2019. His Lincoln won the regional championship and the MHSAA Division 1 state title that year.
According to the ESPN rankings, Bates is the top player in the 2022 recruiting class, but he still isn’t sure about his college future. Although Michigan State relentlessly tries to recruit the fantastic forward, he has different ambitions.
“If I can go straight to the NBA out of high school, it’s a go for me,” the teenager said.
There are two more years ahead of him for deciding about the potential jump among the pros, and if he chooses this way, the doors of the NBA are wide open. He is already one of the top candidates for the No.1 pick regardless of the draft class.
“Emoni Bates is the newest generational talent in the high school game. When his time comes for the NBA Draft, we project him as the No. 1 pick,” ESPN’s Paul Biancardi stated about this youngster.
By the way, Bates couldn’t receive the trophy in person, because of the above-mentioned pandemics. It is why Gatorade decided to surprise the player. Jayson Tatum and Dwyane Wade revealed the news about the award on their Twitter accounts, mentioning Bates.
His competition in the final voting were Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley, both seniors who already picked their college destinations. Cunningham, a 6-foot-6 guard, is going to Oklahoma State, while Mobley, a 6-foot-11 center, decided to commit to USC.
The fact that he beat two seniors, tells a lot about Bates. His name might not be so sound to an average fan, but for all those who are in the world of basketball, he is the next big thing. The only question is, will that be sooner or later.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.