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Former five-star recruit Emoni Bates, considered a prodigious basketball talent from an early age, is transferring from Memphis and returning to his home state to play for Eastern Michigan, he announced Wednesday. on social networks. Bates spent one season in Memphis after upgrading and enlisting with the Tigers. The transfer comes after growing speculation over his basketball future, including a possible return to play for Memphis and interest from a number of other top suitors. In recent days, Louisville has emerged as a real contender.

Bates originally committed to playing in his home state of Michigan at an early age by pledging allegiance to Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo and his Michigan State program in June 2020. This engagement failed in April 2021, resulting in a disengagement. His commitment to Memphis alongside former No. 1 rookie Jalen Duren, who also reclassified and signed up, was meant to help the Tigers build a super team in the AAC.

A super team never materialized and Bates’ authentic basketball — having once been considered the best prospect in the sport regardless of his age — never quite materialized either. He averaged 9.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, and shot 38.6 percent from the field and 32.9 percent from 3-point range. While he spent the stretch run of the season injured, Memphis played as a top-10 program in college hoops.

While it’s kind of strange to see someone of Bates’ caliber and pedigree land in a place like EMU – again, we’re talking about a prospect who was ranked #1 in his class and who, at various times, draws comparisons to Kevin Durant – his trajectory in recent years suggests that it’s not a huge surprise. He hit a plateau as a prospect near the end of his high school career and struggled to be effective in Memphis. He clearly has the size, scoring and physical tools to become an NBA star, but he hasn’t quite put it all together the way he flashed in his early teens.

A return to Michigan, playing neither for Michigan State nor Michigan, might be just what Bates needs to rebuild both his game and his credentials as an NBA prospect. He will join a team that went 10-21 last season and will likely showcase him on and off the ball as a clear No. 1 weapon – something he only enjoyed fitfully at Memphis in part because from a nagging injury – on a team with relatively low expectations in the MAC.