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What an NBA scout has to say about 2022 phenom Emoni Bates

Emoni Bates
Emoni Bates (Jon Lopez/Nike @NikeEYB)

ST. LOUIS – Most elite freshmen are just beginning to settle into the national spotlight, but not Emoni Bates. The top-ranked player in the 2022 class has already been evaluated through and through, and his appearance at the Nike Top 100 Camp this week allowed for even more scrutiny.

This year’s Nike Elite 100 event was the first that NBA scouts were allowed to attend. More than 25 scouts and front office personnel were on hand evaluating over 100 members of the 2021 and 2022 classes throughout 5-on-5 scrimmages and drills. While Jon Kuminga, Chet Holmgren and Terrence Clarke drew plenty of eyeballs, Bates was the one that received the most attention from media and NBA scouts alike.

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2020 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2021 Rankings: Rivals150


Is all of the hype surrounding Bates worthwhile? We sat down with an NBA scout as he gave his own evaluation of the phenom.

“I would say that the camp intensity and energy in the gym, it was enhanced whenever he got there. Every team that would play against him. I liked watching his games because one, everyone tried to go at his neck, so that made the games that much better,” the scout said. “If you watched some of the way the kids played against them and then watched them play the next game, it just went down. A lot of it is who he is and the status.”

While not many can do some of the things that Bates can, the progress he makes in the coming years will impact just how great he can become.

“Is he still growing? How is his body going to develop? If you really look at him, he is not this freak,” he said. “Whenever you saw LeBron (James) at his age, you could tell that he was a freak. Even Kobe (Bryant), at his age, physically they were just freaks. Maybe he turns into (Kevin Durant) but if and when he gets to the league, that is a tall task to have. So, for how good he is going to be? Who knows?”

Where that hype takes Bates remains to be seen. He has already led his high school team to a state championship and just won the Gatorade Player of the Year for Michigan.

There has been little said regarding his college recruitment as his family has kept everything under wraps. Talk continues to gain traction that the one-and-done rule would be erased for the 2022 NBA Draft which would allow Bates the chance to be the first to make the leap since 2005.


The fact that Bates is already being compared to such greats as Durant speaks volumes about where he can get to, but questions do remain about him as a prospect.

“Is he going to get better? Is he going to grow? Is he a franchise player?,” the scout asked. “Based on what he did today, I don’t know if I want to go that far yet off of this week. Is he talented? Yes, but to be a franchise player, that’s hard.”

What is Bates? That is to be determined. For now, he is an effortless scorer that wields a rather unconventional jumper. Thanks to constant repetitions and work in the gym, his jumper is a consistent, three-level weapon that he can count on. He is a light-footed athlete that gets downhill with the ball and should become a very well-rounded and versatile defender down the road.


Measuring at 6-foot-8.5 and with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, Bates must get stronger. He weighed in at just 165 pounds and was pushed around a little too easily. He must get stronger in his lower half and core, but it was refreshing to see Bates battle back through physicality whenever he was seemingly up against bigger and older opponents.

Moving ahead, Bates must round out the various portions to his game, but it is striking that he is already so dominant but still has much more room to grow before he even touches his basketball ceiling.

“He is obviously a tremendous prospect for his age with his ability to get separation to get his shot off and basically get a clean look at the basket every time," the scout said. "You have a young guy that has status to him but didn’t carry himself like that. He played hard, at least on offense. He still has a ways to go physically and I didn’t think that he competed as hard defensively as he did on offense, but with my first time seeing him, he is definitely someone that the hype that he came in with, he definitely delivered some of it.”