Eastern Michigan forward Emoni Bates is a young college star whose post-high school career didn’t start off as the world expected, but he still has a lot of opportunity for success ahead of him.
The forward has already endured a bunch of scrutiny and adversity and still has a long way to go in his maturation process.
Kevin Durant Speaks On Emoni Bates
Bates has been through a heck of a journey so far in his career, and the forward is only 18 years old. Since his junior high school days, the Detroit native has drawn comparisons to NBA superstars like Kevin Durant due to his lanky frame and his shift handle that goes perfectly into his high-arcing jump shot, which is also extremely reminiscent of KD himself.
Speaking of Durant, the two-time NBA champion took notice of the 6-foot-9 Bates’ basketball journey and had a few words of encouragement for the prospect that many have compared to him.
Durant spoke to Yahoo Sports, detailing his perspective on Bates’s career so far, and how he likes the journey he’s going on.
“I like that he’s going the total opposite route in life,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “Leaving school early, transferring from Memphis, got arrested. Went through some s***. You gotta go through some s*** in this life to truly understand where you are.
“He’s playing good ball right now,” Durant added. “He’s been through some s***. He’s a little more grounded.”
In 2020, Bates became the only sophomore to ever win National Gatorade Player of the Year.
Emoni Bates Leaves Penny Hardaway And Memphis
After an amazing career in high school, things didn’t work out like many had projected for Bates, as his freshman season for the Memphis Tigers under Penny Hardaway went horribly. Bates averaged 9.7 points on 38 percent shooting from the field, just over one assist, while turning the ball over two times a game, and only grabbing three rebounds a game.
While Memphis University has shown the ability to get players to the NBA after one year, such as Derrick Rose, James Wiseman, and Precious Achiuwa, the same blueprint didn’t work out for Emoni Bates.
After his lone year at Memphis, he transferred to Eastern Michigan.
Once getting to Eastern Michigan, things became rocky for him there as well. He got arrested for two felony gun violations before he ever got to suit up for them. Though the felony charges were eventually dropped, he was served with an 18-month probation sentence.
Emoni Bates Doing Great At Eastern Michigan
So far, Bates has been tearing it up this season, proving to the world that he was worth the hype, and he’s still a top player in the nation. At Eastern Michigan Bates is averaging 19 points per game on 44 percent shooting from the field, with five rebounds per game.
Bates is definitely finding his footing, and his efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. When KD and the Brooklyn Nets came to Detroit to face the Pistons, Bates went to the game and ended up speaking to KD and Kyrie Irving.
Durant seems to be proud of the adversity Bates is facing, and he loves how he’s taking it head-on. This, in Durant’s eyes, is what makes winners.
When Bates dropped 30 on Michigan with an array of long-distance bombs, pull-ups and lethal drives to the baskets, he had finally arrived.
Durant, of course, is no stranger to adversity. When he entered the league some analysts and basketball experts suggested that he was too frail for his height, saying that he would get bullied around. Also, the infamous decision to take his talents to the Bay ultimately created an insane death squad on the Warriors but gained KD a lot of haters who question the move to this day and debate how it affects his legacy.
Regardless of the noise, Durant is one of the most uniquely skilled players of all time and he acknowledged Bates’ progress. So far, so good for Bates, as he elevates himself back into NBA lottery potential at such a tender age.