Emoni Bates, who as a freshman last season led Ypsilanti Lincoln to its first state championship in boys basketball, is on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated.
Bates is the subject of a feature story titled, “Born for this: Magic, Michael, LeBron … and the 15-year-old who’s next in line.”
“Magic, Michael, LeBron . . . Emoni?” Michael Rosenberg writes in Sports Illustrated. “Well, kids are supposed to dream. Don’t hold it against him. But one assistant at a college superpower, when asked about Emoni Bates, says simply, 'He is the best player I’ve ever seen. You have to see it to believe it.'"
EJ Bates is Emoni’s father, and founder and head coach of Bates Fundamentals, Emoni’s AAU team.
When asked if he was shocked SI wanted Emoni on the cover at his young age, EJ replied: “It’s unheard of, but yes and no, just due to how hard he’s worked, and just going off history and making a comparison between generations and skill set. I think it was a worthy accolade for him.
“I just felt like he deserves whatever comes his way because he works extremely hard for it. When (SI) said it was a possibility he might get the cover, I asked him if he was ready for it.”
Emoni’s answer? “YES!”
Bates already has the upper hand on James and Jordan in at least one regard: James wasn’t on SI’s cover until age 17, in February 2002, when he was a junior in high school; and Jordan didn’t even make his high school’s varsity team until his junior year.
Bates, who averaged 28.5 points and 10.2 rebounds for Lincoln last season, has offers from Michigan and Michigan State, but he has indicated he would like to bypass college and go directly to the NBA. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has said that he would like to eliminate the league’s “one-and-done” requirement.
Lincoln is scheduled to play six games at Eastern Michigan this season, including a showdown with Division 2 state runnerup River Rouge on Dec. 9.