Former top rookie Emoni Bates scores 29 straight points and is loved by LeBron James

YPSILANTI, MI - JANUARY 17: Eastern Michigan Eagles forward Emoni Bates (21) hits a free kick during the Eastern Michigan Eagles game against the Kent State Golden Flashes on Tuesday January 17, 2023 at the George Gervin GameAbove Center in Ypsilanti, MID.  (Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Emoni Bates looked like a star again for Eastern Michigan. (Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Once upon a time, Emoni Bates was the biggest name in amateur basketball. Not much has gone to plan since then, but that doesn’t mean he can’t play like a future superstar at times.

Bates, now in suit for Eastern Michigan, showed his potential on Tuesday by posting 29 straight points for the Eagles in a conference game against Toledo. Going supernova, he made seven 3-pointers and landed a few dunks:

Bates finished with 43 points on 15 of 23 shooting (9 of 14 3-pointers) and seven rebounds.

Few MAC games garner NBA interest, but at least one notable figure was impressed with Bates’ performance: Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, who has raved about Bates since his high school days .

James isn’t the only NBA star to notice Bates, as he’s also caught Kevin Durant’s eye since his transfer from Memphis. Bates has been compared to the two players at the peak of his high school career.

Emoni Bates is trying to find a new path to the NBA

Bates made history in 2020 when he became the first sophomore to be named National Gatorade Player of the Year, an award previously received by Jayson Tatum, Karl-Anthony Towns, Bradley Beal and, yes , James, who has won it twice. .

For a time, it looked like Bates could lead a new generation of prep-to-pro players, but he instead reclassified and landed with Penny Hardaway’s Memphis program as part of a historically good recruiting class. .

Bates’ career as the Tiger wasn’t exactly stellar. At 17, he was the youngest player in college basketball and struggled to keep up with his peers. In an injury-limited first year, he averaged 9.7 points per game while shooting about 38.6 percent from the field. It was a bad year for Memphis overall, but the Tigers notably went 10-2 in games without Bates and 12-9 with him.

This season ended with Bates entering the transfer gate and heading to Eastern Michigan, located in his hometown of Ypsilanti, Michigan. That tenure began abruptly when he was arrested on a firearms charge in September, but he eventually apologized and pleaded to a misdemeanor.

On the field, Bates looked more like a top rookie for the Eagles. He entered Tuesday averaging a team-high 19.3 points and 5.6 rebounds, while shooting 34.4 percent from deep. Admittedly, those numbers are against worse competition and for a team that entered the game 4-15, but Tuesday showed there was still a bit of a star left in a player once seen as a lock on the success of the game. NBA.

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