Legal troubles over, Emoni Bates dazzles on EMU debut

Ypsilanti – Two weeks after being reinstated to his Eastern Michigan basketball team and with his legal troubles mostly behind him, Emoni Bates wore a big smile as the final seconds of warm-up ticked away on Thursday night .

Bates made his last shot in warmups, a long 3-pointer punctuated by a pose, then he made the first shot of his career in Eastern Michigan, another 3-pointer, less than 30 seconds into the game. an exhibition game against Grand Valley State as a cheering crowd of 2,487 cheered their approval for the return of the hometown phenom.

Bates finished the game leading all scorers with 27 points, including part of an impressive first half in which he made three 3-pointers and knocked down a made-for-TV windmill dunk . He struggled a little early in the second half, a second turnover in as many possessions sending him to the bench, where he got one-on-one advice from the second-year head coach of ‘Eastern, Stan Heath, who ended the conversation with a pat on the back.

East guard Emoni Bates takes a free kick in the first half.  Eastern vs. Grand Valley during a men's basketball exhibition at the George Gervin GameAbove Center at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan on October 27, 2022. (Robin Buckson/The Detroit News)

Thursday’s exhibition, won by Eastern Michigan 85-69 thanks to a dominant second half, marked Bates’ first game in his hometown of Ypsilanti since ending his high school career in the league. shadow of the George Gervin Center.

“I feel like, you know, those kind of guys, you have to let them be them, but at the same time let him know we’re here for him and support him and watch him play,” said Eastern Michigan sophomore point guard Noah. Farrakhan said of Bates. “He’s a rare talent.

“It’s a big room.”

East guard Emoni Bates (21) leads Grand Valley forward Isaiah Carver-Bagley (24) in the first half.  Eastern vs. Grand Valley in a men's basketball exhibition at the George Gervin GameAbove Center at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan on October 27, 2022.

Bates was not made available to the media after the match.

Bates, 18, a once-in-a-lifetime phenom who was on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a 15-year-old, played his first season at Memphis, where he averaged 9.7 points before deciding to transfer after a baptism of up and down at college hoops that featured off-court drama and a season-ending injury.

Saying, ‘I love my city,’ he then chose eastern Michigan to pursue his career, much to the delight of a school that saw season ticket sales more than double after Bates announced his return at home.

The upper deck of the Gervin Center, formerly the Convocation Center, was closed Thursday, but if Bates can resuscitate his career and push harder for Eastern Michigan like his first, that may not always be the case. .

East guard Emoni Bates goes for a dunk in the first half.  Eastern vs. Grand Valley in a men's basketball exhibition at the George Gervin GameAbove Center at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan on October 27, 2022.

Bates dazzled despite limited practice. Even before he could officially train with his new teammates, he broke the law, pulled over and was arrested for felony firearms charges last month. He was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering the identification marks on the weapon, which was missing one of its three serial numbers. Bates told officers that the car and the gun, a 9-millimeter Glock 17C, did not belong to him. The car was registered with an LLC in Memphis. It has not been revealed who owns the weapon.

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