Memphis transfer Emoni Bates, a former No. 1 high school basketball prospect, announced Wednesday that he's heading back home to play for Eastern Michigan.
The star from Ypsilanti, Michigan, released a list of six schools in early May, a group that included Michigan, Arkansas, Seton Hall, DePaul and Louisville as well as Eastern Michigan. Other schools were linked to Bates throughout the process, including Illinois and Kansas State, but he has opted to return to his hometown and play for Stan Heath and the Eagles.
Bates, a 6-foot-9 small forward, was considered one of the elite basketball prospects in the country throughout his high school career, ranking No. 1 in the 2022 class until he reclassified last summer and ended up at No. 3 in 2021.
Much like his transfer recruitment, Bates' high school recruitment was shrouded in mystery. He originally committed to Michigan State in the summer of 2020 and then reopened his recruitment in April 2021, but it was widely expected Bates would skip college and play professionally. But after reclassifying from 2022 to 2021, he committed to Memphis.
His lone season under Penny Hardaway was uneven. He missed 15 of 33 games because of a back injury that required him to return home to see a specialist, and he struggled when on the floor. Bates had at least 15 points in each of his first three games of the season but failed to reach that mark again the rest of the season.
Bates averaged 9.7 points and 3.3 rebounds with the Tigers.
He immediately becomes the most high-profile player in the Mid-American Conference, where he'll play for an Eastern Michigan team that hasn't reached the NCAA tournament since 1998. Heath, who is entering his second season with the Eagles, has 12 years of major-conference head-coaching experience from his time at Arkansas and South Florida.
Eastern Michigan went 10-21 overall last season, 5-15 in the MAC.