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JaVaughn Hannah, Orlando Lovejoy excited to join Emoni Bates’ new team, despite few details

David Goricki
The Detroit News

JaVaughn Hannah said it had been a dream shared by himself, Emoni Bates and Orlando Lovejoy to play high school basketball together.

That dream seems to be close to reality with the announcement Monday that E.J. Bates, Emoni’s father, was creating the Ypsi Prep Academy, which will compete on the national scene against prep powerhouses from across the country.

JaVaughn Hannah

And while the 6-foot-9 Bates – the Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year – is considered the premier high school player in the country regardless of class, Hannah and Loveyjoy are also outstanding players in the 2022 class with multiple Division 1 offers.

“We’ve talked about playing high school basketball together since the seventh grade and the idea was brought up to us recently by Mr. Bates,” Hannah told The Detroit News, pointing out they have been AAU teammates for multiple years with the Bates Fundamentals team.

“I’m not sure actually where it’s (Ypsi Arbor Prep) going to be at, it’s a brand-new thing, but we’re going to be staying together somewhere in Ypsilanti. It’s going to be good for us. We’re all in with it.”

More: Niyo: Emoni Bates' rare talents headed to Michigan State amid unchartered future

E.J. Bates has not returned calls or text messages from The News about his prep school so few details are known, such as where the players will stay, how they will take classes, and where games will take place.

Emoni Bates was a freshman phenom when he led Ypsilanti Lincoln to the Division 1 state championship, averaging 28.5 points and 10.2 rebounds. He then averaged 31 points and 10 rebounds his sophomore year, becoming a two-time member of The Detroit News Dream Team.

Hannah earned first-team Detroit News All-East this past season, averaging 31.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists for Mount Clemens, including a 60-point performance.

Lovejoy earned a first-team Detroit News All-West spot, averaging 30 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for Romulus Summit Academy.

Mount Clemens coach Pete Trammell understands why Hannah is departing Mount Clemens for prep school.

“I knew about it for a couple of weeks, it’s a business decision obviously, with the COVID-19 and the MHSAA possibly being interrupted again,” said Trammell of Hannah planning to play for Ypsi Prep Academy. “He definitely made the decision that’s best for him and I support him 100 percent.

“I’ve played overseas, and I’ve played college basketball, so I think I have a pretty good opinion for talent and how guys will develop and JaVaughn is on track to be in the NBA, just with his physical nature and his body.

“He’s grown another inch so he’s 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, so physically he just has the makeup, and he has things that are God-given. His hands are so large, and he wears a size 15 shoe. His scoring mentality is second to none, he has the hunger to score. His ball-handling, his shot making, his ability to guard, there’s no question why he has 12 Division 1 offers (including Arizona State, Marquette, Texas A&M, Mississippi, DePaul).”

Emoni Bates

Trammell compares Hannah to former NBA All-Stars Dwayne Wade and Jimmy Butler and feels he will be a one-and-done player in college before reaching the NBA.

“I think he’s a lot like Dwayne Wade, Jimmy Butler, those types of guys,” said Trammell of Hannah. “I played AAU ball for the Michigan Mustangs in 2003, so that was with Al Horford and Drew Neitzel. I watched Al Horford at a young age and I understood how a pro acts, how a pro approaches the game, and JaVaughn is more talented than how Al was as far in terms of his physical ability, his God-given ability. I can’t see him being in college for more than a year, just going on the trajectory he’s on now.”

Lovejoy said he will be competing with Bates and Hannah with the Bates Fundamentals AAU team in Las Vegas later this month. He is also looking forward to being teammates with them at Ypsi Prep Academy.

“As of right now I am. It’s not final yet, I have not enrolled into the school yet, but I am committed to going to the school right now,” said Lovejoy of Ypsi Prep Academy.

When asked what he knows about Ypsi Prep Academy, Lovejoy said: “We’re supposed to be living somewhere in Ypsilanti as a team, but all the details have not been finalized.

“Me and my family felt it was best for my development and my growth with the different competition and playing the best players in the world, then getting the chance to practice with the best players in the state.”

Lovejoy, a 6-3 combo guard, said he enjoyed playing for the Bates Fundamentals AAU team, not knowing how he would fit in before joining the organization.

“I remember when I first started playing with Bates it was, ‘Were they going to ball hog, am I’m going to be able to play my game?” said Lovejoy, who has offers from LIU-Brooklyn, Detroit-Mercy and Mississippi Valley State while getting attention from Michigan State and Toledo. “But they brought me in great. I was happy with my production and they made it easy to play with them. So I feel like if we can do that on AAU there’s no reason why we shouldn’t do that for prep basketball.

“My goal for this year is to just show I belong, just show that I’m right up there with the best players in the country.”