'Ypsi's Emoni' captures rise of prep basketball phenom Emoni Bates

The Detroit News

Emoni Bates is everywhere now.

Whether you follow preps, the college teams or the NBA, you already know who Bates is if you’re a hoopshead.

Emoni Bates (21) helped lead Ypsilanti Lincoln to a Division 1 state championship as a freshman.

But some local filmmakers wanted to go a little deeper with the Ypsilanti Lincoln High School teenager to share his story.

Here’s “Ypsi’s Emoni,” the story on Bates and his rise to a state championship in his freshman year with the Railsplitters.

Greg DeLiso and Matt Schoch, a frequent Detroit News sports correspondent, met a year ago through mutual friend Mike O’Brien and decided to work together on independent projects.

DeLiso is a local filmmaker and Red Wings enthusiast, and Schoch was looking to tell stories in new ways other than articles and podcasts. Both are native Detroit-area sons, but both spent years outside of Michigan broadening their careers and viewpoints.

With the help of research from O’Brien, the pair is releasing the 20-minute short documentary for all to see on Vimeo.

What they found is a story with more layers — and more struggles — than you might expect.

When discussing the film in the early stages, Emoni’s father EJ Bates told the filmmakers that a look at where Bates is from would make for an interesting angle.

DeLiso and Schoch pursued that and wove the tale of Bates and the Railsplitters climbing the Michigan high school basketball mountain alongside a look at Ypsilanti’s plight.

What they found is there’s a lot there with Bates, his town and his team.

It’s not as easy as Bates sometimes makes it look, but the filmmakers are betting: When the real bright lights come on, the Ypsi kid will be ready.