Memphis transfer Emoni Bates chooses Eastern Michigan over Louisville basketball, others

Louisville won't be the next stop in Emoni Bates' basketball journey.

Once the most-coveted prep prospect in basketball, the Memphis transfer announced Wednesday via his Instagram that he's headed to Eastern Michigan.

Bates, from Ypsilanti, Michigan, chose his hometown school after considering Louisville, Michigan and DePaul, among others.

Last month, Bates told On3 he knew people "probably look at me crazy" for considering Eastern Michigan.

"But if I went there, I would be like the neighborhood hero," he told the site. "I used to play at Eastern during my high school games when I was at Lincoln, and we used to pack it out every time. That would be crazy for me to be able to bring love to the city."

Previously on Emoni Bates: Memphis transfer, once a prep superstar, considering Louisville basketball

For a time, Louisville had been considered the favorite to land Bates. He told On3 in May he'd known Cardinals coach Kenny Payne since Bates was in the seventh grade and Payne was an assistant at Kentucky.

"I took a visit to Kentucky when I was a kid and me and him had a bond and we were always really close," Bates told On3. "He would always talk to my dad as well. KP is someone I would really love to learn from. He’s got a lot of experience with the game and he would make sure that I would get to where I want to go. He would invest in me and make sure I’m getting better, on and off the court, every day."

Bates had a pedestrian freshman season at Memphis, where he averaged 9.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 23.4 minutes. He shot 38.6% from the floor, 32.9% from 3-point range and 64.6% from the free-throw line.

But not long ago, Bates drew comparison to some of basketball's historic elites. He once appeared on a Sports Illustrated cover alongside the headline "Born For This." Under a closeup of his face was the cover-story teaser: "Magic, Michael, LeBron... And the 15-year-old who's next in line."

In AAU basketball and as a prep star in Ypsilanti — first at Lincoln High School, then Ypsi Prep Academy, a school his father created — Bates was a scintillating scorer who drew comparisons to Kevin Durant for his length and 3-point shooting.

Giannotto: Emoni Bates and Memphis basketball were better off without each other

In his look-ahead to the 2023 NBA draft, Bleacher Report draft analyst Jonathan Wasserman listed Bates as a "potential breakout returner" but noted his "image took a hit this year, with questions arising over his athleticism around the basket and decision-making."

Still, Wasserman wrote, "we'd likely be pointing out the 18-year-old's positives more than the negatives if he didn't arrive with so much hype."

He'll now try to recapture his basketball mojo back home.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Emoni Bates: Memphis transfer picks Eastern Michigan over Louisville