Emoni Bates, the freshman sensation who led Ypsilanti Lincoln to the Division 1 boys basketball state championship, has been named Michigan's Gatorade player of the year.
Bates is the only freshman to win the award, which is handed out in all 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C. Two sophomores won the award; the rest were juniors and seniors.
“I found out Friday after the semifinal game,” Bates told The Detroit News. “I didn’t tell my teammates until after the championship game on Saturday. They were surprised. I was shocked when I found out. It was a blessing. I have to keep working so I can get some more.”
Bates, 6-foot-9 and 180 pounds, guided Lincoln to a 23-4 season, which included the thrilling 64-62 upset of U-D Jesuit in the state-championship game.
It was Bates' teammate, Jalen Fisher, who made the winning shot in the final, as Bates passed up the basketball in the waning seconds. Bates hit multiple winning baskets earlier in Lincoln's postseason run.
Considered the top freshman basketball player in the nation, Bates averaged nearly 30 points and more than 10 rebounds this season.
"Emoni is 6-8 and he handles and shoots the ball like he’s 5-8," River Rouge head coach Lamonta Stone said in the Gatorade press release. "In today’s NBA, he is a poster child for the new term being thrown around — the position-less player.”
Bates also carries a 3.10 grade-point average and volunteers with school-literacy initiatives.
Past winners of the award from Michigan include Foster Loyer, Isaiah Livers, Cassius Winston and Deyonta Davis.
On the girls side, Detroit Edison's Rickea Jackson won the award for a second consecutive season.
She was presented the honor earlier this month, before she was named Miss Basketball for Michigan earlier this week.
Jackson, who will play next year at Mississippi State, was averaging 22.1 points, eight rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.9 steals entering Tuesday night's Division 2 quarterfinal game. She also has a 3.19 GPA.
Staff writer David Goricki contributed