Emoni Bates, the No. 1 basketball recruit in the Class of 2022 and considered by some to be the top basketball recruit in high school hoops regardless of classification, committed to the Michigan State Spartans in a bombshell announcement on Monday afternoon. The 6-foot-8 small forward from Lincoln High School in Ypsilanti, Michigan, chose the Spartans over a handful of other offers accumulated throughout his recruitment, citing his longstanding relationship with Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo.
"They get all my respect," he said via ESPN. "I love how they coach, coach Izzo, I like how they focus on defense more than offense. On and off the court, he has passion. He's just an amazing guy overall."
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Michigan State was the only program that kept at him consistently throughout the recruitment process and in the end was the only program that was left standing, recruiting him for years in hopes of the potential that he chose to attend college. That's because the prevailing belief among college basketball circles for well over a year with Bates is that he would never play college basketball and would ultimately jump to the NBA.
The odds of that still happening remain high, despite how early it is. But jumping from the preps to pros would almost certainly require a rule change to accommodate it. He turned 16 years old in January and even if he were to reclassify to 2021, he won't turn 19 -- the league's age minimum to be drafted -- until 2023. The expectation for awhile has been that the NBA will allow high school recruits to leave and be drafted in 2022 without having to turn 19, but it's still unclear if that rule change will be pushed through by then.
All that aside, it's nonetheless a huge win in the recruiting realm for MSU by grabbing a commitment from a recruit that's revered as one of the best prospects in a decade. Here's what 247Sports' Evan Daniels said of him last summer:
Slender, but is 6-foot-8 and has long arms. He's a good athlete that bounces off the ground with ease. His skill set and offensive package is advanced for his age. He handles the ball well, uses hesitations and jab moves to create space and is a gifted three-level scorer. He shoots it well on the move and off the bounce, and despite lacking strength finishes well at the rim. He also has a strong motor, is a gifted passer and a willing rebounder. Next step is adding strength, but there's plenty of time for that. Bates was arguably the best freshman prospect since LeBron James.
Bates is the highest-rated commitment for Michigan State basketball in program history (since recruiting rankings were in place), besting previous No. 1 Shannon Brown, a five-star Class of 2003 prospect. He's the third five-star recruit to pick Sparty since 2016, joining Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr.
Bates became the first sophomore ever to win Gatorade's National Player of the Year award earlier this year, besting Cade Cunningham, the early frontrunner to go No. 1 in the 2021 NBA Draft.