Emoni Bates, considered one of the best high school basketball recruits since LeBron James, announced his commitment to Michigan State on Monday.
“I don’t know what the future may hold, but as I do know right now, I will be committed to Michigan State University,” Bates said live on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
“They’ve been showing love to me since I was in seventh grade. They’ve been recruiting me hard since then. … I’m big on loyalty, and they showed me all loyalty, so I’ve gotta show them love back.”
He also announced Monday that he will attend a new prep school in Ypsilanti that his father, Elgin, plans to open in the fall.
Bates, who turned 16 in late January, is currently a member of the 2022 class. The 6-foot-9, 205-pound forward became the first sophomore ever to be names Gatorade National Player of the Year last year, when he averaged 33.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.3 steals for Lincoln High in Ypsilanti, Mich.
It’s unclear if Bates will reclassify to join the 2021 class early, or if he will turn professional before ever playing in college. He is on track to graduate after his junior year, but unless rules change, he cannot enter the NBA draft until after he turns 19.
Bates told ESPN this spring that he would jump directly to the NBA if the league’s one-and-done rule were removed, but that change is no longer expected soon after previous optimism it could happen before the 2022 draft.
The NBA overhauled its G League program in April by introducing a new team to recruit top prep prospects, offering a salary of up to $500,000 to draw players who might play professionally overseas. However, Bates told ESPN previously that he would prefer college basketball to the G League.
“It’s good for certain players. That’s a lot of money,” he said of the program. “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.”
Michigan State was the only school to regularly recruit Bates, as many expected him to skip college and play professionally.