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Y11 Notes: Emoni Bates' Second Chance
EMU's most-prized recruit in program history set to make a comeback with his hometown team.
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Y11 Notes: Friday, Oct. 14
ESPN: Felony charges dropped, will return to EMU
An update on the Emoni Bates saga. His lawyer told ESPN yesterday that Bates’ felony charges are set to be dismissed next week. Bates is in transition to accept a plea deal and be reinstated by Eastern Michigan.
The ESPN report, by Jeff Borzello and Pete Thamel:
Attorney Steve Haney said in a phone interview on Thursday that Bates is in the process of being reinstated by the university, athletic department and president. He had been suspended the last three weeks pending resolution of the felony charges.
Haney added that felony charges against Bates are set to be dismissed on Wednesday, Oct. 19 in a session before the Washtenaw County Circuit Court.
Haney said he has negotiated a plea deal with the Washtenaw County Prosecutor's office in exchange for the dismissal of all felony charges. Bates is expected to plead to one misdemeanor count of attempted illegal transportation of a weapon. It will be entirely dismissed upon completion of a misdemeanor diversion program.
Eastern Michigan University sources confirmed to ESPN that Bates has been cleared to return for athletics practice and is in the process of being cleared to return to campus for classes.
"It's my understanding he's actively being cleared by the school administration to return to campus today to resume his studies and his basketball career," Haney said. "I'm very pleased this matter has been resolved so Emoni can get back to school and join his teammates."
Bates was arrested on Sept. 18 and charged with carrying a concealed weapon and "altering ID marks" on a firearm. A plea of not guilty was entered on Bates' behalf the following day.
Haney told ESPN that the arrest came after a routine traffic stop when Bates was driving a borrowed car that had a gun in it.
According to the police report obtained by ESPN, deputies observed a black Mitsubishi Outlander run a stop sign and initiated a traffic stop. The report says Bates stated there was marijuana and a handgun in the vehicle and an ensuing search of the vehicle uncovered a gun under the driver's seat. The serial number under the barrel of the gun had been removed, according to the report.
When Bates was initially charged with the word “felony” next to his name last month, a lot of people said they were disappointed in the “situation he found himself in,” which I’m sure is just a quick reference to him getting pulled over in somebody else’s car that had somebody else’s gun. This singular moment is usually the situation people by and large have been referring to, but what about everything else?
I’m not going to sit here with armchair judgments about the situation Bates was found in for all this to occur in the first place. As more of a point of conversation than anything, I will say that Bates has had a very, very unique life.
As the 15-year old, 6-foot-9 star for Ypsilanti Lincoln HS kept scoring on everybody in his way, he won Michigan’s Gatorade Player of the Year, was MaxPrep’s National Freshman of the Year, Mick McCabe of the Detroit Free Press wondered if he’s the best freshman this state has ever seen (including Magic), and 247sports wondered if he’s the best national freshman recruit since LeBron James. By the end of the 2019 calendar year, he told SI that it felt normal for him to chat it up with Kevin Durant over Instagram DMs.
A year later, Bates continued his dominance in the HS ranks and became the first sophomore boy to ever win the Gatorade National Player of the Year award, among all the other roses that come with a repeat season like his. In the summer after his sophomore year, Bates announced his original commitment to Michigan State.
Bates’ father, E.J., created Ypsi Prep Academy, where Bates spent his third and final year of high school ball. Bates reclassified to enter the college game after just three years of college ball, and flipped his commitment from MSU to Memphis.
The year in Memphis went about at poorly as Bates could’ve hoped for. He and his teammates just didn’t always get along, and it didn’t help that the scoring just didn’t happen in the college game last year. Bates left after one year, played some hide-and-seek on his way to EMU, and now he’s in the process of coming back to the team after a month-long suspension before he even got to play for the hometown college.
Bates is 18. He’ll be 19 in January.
Bates has lived a whirlwind of a basketball life, and now an off-court personal-life situation is giving him a second chance at all of that.
What happened a month ago, seemed like something that could’ve ended his entire basketball career. Legally everything worked out in Bates’ favor, but it’s not hard to imagine for a minute that things might not have. Had Bates not beaten the case, then he could’ve kissed his whole basketball future goodbye. Instead of being compared to the all-time greats, Bates would’be been instantly compared to the all-time recruiting let-downs.
Will basketball fans still be rooting for Bates this year?
Will opposing fans use this moment as a verbal weapon from the stands?
Will the difference between people taking Bates seriously or not be decided by whether or not he can get EMU to the NCAA Tournament?
EMU will be happy to have Bates back for basketball-related reasons, but I hope the school’s equally as happy to give him what it takes for him to feel like he’s going through a somewhat normal college basketball experience. Between his all-time greatness at such a young age and his Nike deal, I don’t know how much of a normal life he’s allowed to have, whether that’s his fault or not. Bates can’t even be a neighborhood kid who transfers back to his hometown school without it being an abnormal thing, because it’s not normal for guys like Bates to play at schools like EMU.
Bates has his second chance at basketball. If he, as a younger teenager, ever had a vision for how life would look for him at EMU, he probably didn’t think it’d come with this kind of lead-up. The standard for Bates to live up to has already been set at an astronomically high level the expectations will always be there from everybody that’s paid attention to his future NBA potential.
Whether or not the national expectation level on Bates is fair, it’s all something he’s worked towards before, and now he’s at the age where he’ll have to work his way out of, and towards, different situations. Right now, the work ahead of Bates includes getting away from the bad headlines and towards a MAC title and NBA prosperity.