Emoni Bates picks Memphis, joins Penny Hardaway and Jalen Duren

Emoni Bates, regarded as the top high school prospect in America, is heading to college a year earlier and chose Memphis over Oregon, Michigan State and the G League Ignite team.

Head coach Penny Hardaway landed a strong recruiting class with Bates and the other top player in the 2022 class, Jalen Duren. Both Bates and Duren teamed up this past spring on the AAU circuit playing for Philadelphia-based Team Final on Nike’s EYBL.

“His passing is really underrated, and I love playing with him,” Duren told Yahoo Sports last month. “He creates so much space for others since you can’t even drop off to help in the post when he doesn’t have the ball.”

YPSILANTI, MI - DECEMBER 09:  Ypsilanti Lincoln Railsplitter sophomore Emoni Bates in action against the River Rouge Panthers during the Ypsi Tip Off Classic on December 9, 2019 at the Eastern Michigan Convocation University Center in Ypsilanti, Michigan.  (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Emoni Bates, pictured in 2019 playing for Ypsilanti Lincoln (Michigan) as a sophomore, comitted to play his college ball at Memphis. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Bates, a 6-foot-9 wing, committed to Michigan State last summer but reopened his options in the spring. He averaged 22.2 points per game during the biggest AAU tournament of the summer, Nike’s Peach Jam, last month and was one of the top prospects on the court. NBA scouts and executives got a first look at the 17-year-old who has been hailed as “the next Kevin Durant” as he knocked down tough 3-pointers from anywhere on the court and drew numerous double-teams whenever he touched the ball.

“Emoni has a natural feel for the game that you don’t see a lot at this level,” an NBA scout told Yahoo Sports. “His long frame and high release on his jump shot will definitely help him down the road in his career.”

This isn’t the first time Hardaway will have the top recruiting class. Two seasons ago he landed the No. 1 recruit in the nation in James Wiseman (who eventually went No. 2 to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA draft) and five-star recruit Precious Achiuwa. It was a disappointing season for the Tigers after Wiseman played only three games due to a recruiting violation and eligibility issues, and the Tigers went 21-10 (10-8 in the AAC).

With the NCAA’s name, image and likeness rule in place for this season, look for both marquee players to cash in big for the 2021-22 season. They each have the potential to bring in over $1 million each this season and with the established brand Hardaway has built at Memphis, both players could earn more than any other player at a blue-blood program.

All eyes will be on Memphis this upcoming season. The pressure is on Hardaway to win and after seeing what both players did at the high school level, Memphis is now must-watch basketball for NBA fans.