NBA

Emoni Bates says he can be one of the best players ever

YPSILANTI, MI - DECEMBER 18: Emoni Bates #21 of the Eastern Michigan Eagles dribbles the ball during a college basketball game against the Detroit Mercy Titans at the George Gervin GameAbove Center on December 18, 2022 in Ypsilanti, Michigan. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Emoni Bates was once touted as a basketball prodigy. Fast forward to today, though, and Bates is projected to go late in the second round of this year’s draft. However, he isn’t letting his NBA stock belie his confidence because he believes that he “can be one of the best players to ever play this game.”

While speaking with HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto, the 19-year-old explained what it’s like having to live up to the hype he garnered when he was younger. Bates highlights how his work ethic serves as a bastion for his temerity, consequently precluding any outside noise. 

Furthermore, he’s competed against the other players in this year’s draft his whole life. Therefore, he knows the type of training he must commit to in order to get better.

“In my opinion, I definitely feel like I can be one of the best players to ever play this game because I know how hard I work,” Bates said. “I’ve been playing against people that are going into this draft my whole life. For me, this is about getting better and stronger. When I get stronger, it’s going to be fun.”

Bates was ranked No. 1 from sixth grade to senior year

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 11: Eastern Michigan Eagles forward Emoni Bates (21) shoots a free throw during the Eastern Michigan Eagles game versus the Michigan Wolverines on Friday November 11, 2022 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, MI. (Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Bates also talked about how he prefers the position he’s in now, compared to when he was ranked No. 1 in the nation. As a kid, he had the daunting task of having to deal with being put on a pedestal. Today, however, his mind is no longer fraught with expectations. 

“It definitely was hard,” Bates explained. “I’ve been ranked No. 1 since I was in sixth grade until my senior year of high school. For me, it was about getting better each year. As a kid, that’s kind of hard. Now, I’m at peace. I love the position I’m in right now because now I just get to work and focus on getting better, and I don’t have to worry about expectations or none of that.”

This past season, Bates averaged 19.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists for the Eastern Michigan Eagles.

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