It’s always an honor when you are compared to Lebron James, the best basketball player of this generation. What makes it even more special is a comparison to King James at the age of 16. Basketball prodigy Emoni Bates made history by becoming the first Sophomore in 35 years to win the National Gatorade Player of the Year Award. 

Emoni Bates’ Stat line 

While most kids are focused on learning how to drive, Bates has been cooking people on the court. ESPN has put him as the No.1 prospect in the country for the class of 2022. This year, the Michigan native averaged 32.4 points, nine rebounds, and three assists per game. In his first two years of high school basketball he scored a whopping 1,343 points. Not only has Bates won the National Gatorade Player of the Year Award, but he has the opportunity to do so three times, which would be unprecedented. 

Bates told ESPN that he was surprised when he won the award. Last year he won Michigan’s Basketball Player of the Year, and now he is getting his name on the national stage.

“I just dedicated myself.” Bates told “I work hard every day. It’s putting all the hours in the gym and just staying focused through all of this and not letting it get to my head. I’m dedicated, and I’m humble, so I’m always going to be humble. I’m always going to keep working and being myself.”

In 2018 Bates turned heads at the USA Basketball Junior Minicamp. During the camp he was asked who he studies film on. His response, former Gatorade Player of the Year, Jayson Tatum. “He is calm, and he knows how to score the ball, and he is patient. He lets the game come to him.” He explained that he models his game after Tatum.

Little did Bates know that two years later, he would be getting a Twitter shout out from the Celtics star.


Emoni Bates Recruiting

So now the question becomes, where does one of the most promising prospects since Lebron go to college? Top schools like Duke, Kentucky and Michigan have their collative eyes on the 6 foot 9 wing, but his focus is on the NBA.

“If I can go straight to the league, then that’s what I’m going to do. Of course, I want to play in the NBA. That’s been my dream” he told Yahoo Sports.

No one knows whether the one and done rule that forces high schoolers to go to at least one year of college or be one year removed from school before being drafted will be extinct by 2022, but I know wherever he does end up playing, he will be a force to be reckoned with.

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