Emoni Bates made history this year when the sophomore became the first underclassmen to ever win the Gatorade National Boys Player of the Year award. Bates is the top recruit in the 2022 cycle, and decided on Monday to go ahead and end the recruitment process and make his commitment known, despite having at least one more year left of high school, and likely two if he doesn’t reclassify.
Bates announced that he will be committing to Michigan State to play for Tom Izzo, as he told ESPN’s Mark Schlabach and Jeff Borzello.
“They get all my respect, really,” Emoni Bates said. “I love how they coach, Coach Izzo, I like how they focus on defense more than offense. That’s a big key in basketball and people don’t understand that. On and off the court, he has passion. He’s just an amazing guy, overall.”
Bates and his father also addressed the potential to reclassify, with both saying they expect him to play out his high school career, but leaving the door open for the possibility of him joining the Class of 2021 if things are “too easy.” Bates also announced that he’ll be leaving Lincoln High School and playing his next two seasons for a prep school that is being launched by his father, Elgin, and will be coached by his AAU coach, which plans to play a national schedule and be operated by his father beyond Emoni’s departure.
The announcement came as a bit of a surprise to Michigan State, but certainly a happy surprise as they land one of the premier prospects high school basketball has seen in recent history.
Am told Michigan State had no idea Emoni Bates’ commitment was coming until rumors started this morning.
— Brendan Quinn (@BFQuinn) June 29, 2020
While there had been an expectation that 2022 would be the first draft without the one-and-done rule, allowing Bates to go straight to the NBA, those discussions are now on hold and it’s possible the NBA won’t get around to changing their draft rules until later. When asked by ESPN about the league’s G League alternative to college, Bates noted that its a good opportunity for some but did not think it would be something he’d be interested in.
“It’s good for certain players. That’s a lot of money,” he said. “I don’t really plan on, I don’t think I’ll do it. It’s good for some people, but I don’t think I’ll head that route.”
As it stands now, Michigan State is two years away from getting the nation’s best player. That can all change, whether by him reclassifying to 2021 or should the NBA go forward with eliminating the one-and-done rule, but it’s a good day in East Lansing regardless.