NBA Draft prospect Emoni Bates to work out for Phoenix Suns

May 25, 2023, 10:56 AM

Emoni Bates #21 of the Eastern Michigan Eagles  dribbles up court in the first half during a colleg...

Emoni Bates #21 of the Eastern Michigan Eagles dribbles up court in the first half during a college basketball game against the Detroit Mercy Titans at the George Gervin GameAbove Center on December 18, 2022 in Ypsilanti, Michigan. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Former Eastern Michigan and Memphis forward Emoni Bates will have one of his upcoming NBA Draft workouts with the Phoenix Suns, he told The Athletic’s Alex Schiffer.

Bates, 19, has had an eventful road here. If his name rings a bell, that’s because Bates was a highly-touted, and I mean highly-touted high school prospect. Suns forward Kevin Durant was once one of those and has kept tabs on Bates, checking in with him after both played a game in the same arena in December.

When Bates was 15 years old, Sports Illustrated called him a “once-in-a-generation talent.” Two years later, The Athletic all but guaranteed Bates would be a No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, writing “it’s not a question of if Emoni will be a top pick in the NBA Draft, but when.”

Bates was as the No. 3 overall recruit for the 2021 high school class by ESPN, ahead of future one-and-done top-3 picks like Jabari Smith Jr. and Paolo Banchero. That was after he reclassified, going to Memphis a year ahead of schedule, not a terribly uncommon move for high-level prospects to make.

It did not benefit Bates, though, who largely struggled at Memphis. His playing time and role varied and then he was out altogether for the last 12 games of the regular season. Bates’ coach and father both said he was dealing with a back injury, but there was doubt surrounding the injury after Bates went back home to Michigan to get it checked on, a terribly uncommon move at the college level.

Memphis went 10-2 in the last dozen games without him, enough to surge into the NCAA Tournament. No one expected Bates to play then, but he did, getting 12 minutes in the second-round loss to Gonzaga.

Bates then transferred to Eastern Michigan. Soon after, he was arrested on gun charges that were later dropped before the start of his sophomore season. While the Eagles were one of the worst teams in the country prior and didn’t win many more games with Bates, going 8-23, he flashed his scoring potential all year. Bates averaged 19.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, shooting 40.5% from the field and 33.0% on 3s. He scored 30-plus in four different games.

While he was more productive, this didn’t necessarily revitalize Bates’ stock. He’s ranked 57th by ESPN and 76th by The AthleticWith that said, Bates’ talent will get him some looks, hence the workout with the Suns, who pick 52nd.

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