Emoni Bates makes homecoming official with Eastern Michigan basketball; 'I love my city'

Ypsilanti Prep junior forward Emoni Bates, a five-star Michigan State commit, dunks vs. Lake Norman Christian (North Carolina) during a game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021, at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina.

Eastern Michigan basketball announced Tuesday that former five-star recruit and Ypsilanti native Emoni Bates has officially signed with the program.

Bates, 18, was once the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2022. But after two seasons at Ypsilanti Lincoln, winning a state championship as a freshman, and one year at the prep school team Ypsi Prep, created by his father, Bates — who was once verbally committed to Michigan State — reclassified and began his college career at Memphis.

The 6-foot-9, 190-pounder averaged 9.7 points and 3.3 rebounds, shooting 38.6% from the field in 18 games last season. The year was marred by injuries and discord among his teammates, which pushed Bates to transfer.

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After a months-long courtship, Bates announced on social media in June that he would be joining the Eagles.

"I love my city and coming home to do something special was big for me," Bates said in a released statement. "I’ve known several of the guys on the team from playing together and competing. Having a strong relationship and bond with my teammates and coaching staff was important to me. I’ve been working really hard over the years, especially this summer, against great competition to continue to get better. I’m excited to have Coach Heath and his staff working with the team and myself. I really feel a connection here and I’m excited for our upcoming season."

EMU, in the first year under Stan Heath, was 10-21 (5-15 Mid-American Conference) last season. The former MSU assistant under Tom Izzo has been a head coach in college and the NBA G League for 18 years.

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"Eastern Michigan basketball, the University, and our entire community are all thrilled to welcome Emoni back home," Heath said in the released statement. "As I have gotten to know him, I am extremely impressed by his love for the game, the work ethic he has on his craft, and the passion he has to be great. In meeting him, I was encouraged by his character and who he is as a person.

According to EMU, Bates is the highest-ranked recruit in program history and the first five-star prospect to play in the Mid-American Conference.

Contact Kirkland Crawford: Follow him on Twitter @HiKirkHere.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Emoni Bates officially signs with Eastern Michigan basketball