Royal Oak Tribune

Emoni Bates scores career-high 30 in EMU’s loss to No. 22 Michigan

- By Larry Lage

DETROIT >> Emoni Bates showed flashes of his promise, scoring 17 of his career-high 30 points to help Eastern Michigan lead No. 22 Michigan at halftime.

The former basketball prodigy and his new teammates came up just short in the end.

Hunter Dickinson had 31 points, Terrance Williams scored 18 and Jaelin Llewellyn added 12 points to lift the Wolverines to an 88-83 win over the Eagles on Friday night.

The Wolverines (20) went ahead on Llewellyn’s layup with 2:49 left in a game with 17 lead changes and 11 ties.

The Eagles (1-1) were up 45-40 at halftime and had an eight-point lead early in the second half, but ended up losing a 22nd straight game against a ranked opponent.

Bates, though, was the story of the night.

Eastern Michigan coach Stan Heath did not play Bates in the team’s seasonopen­ing game on Monday and the former Michigan State assistant would not say why he sat the sophomore, who transferre­d last summer from Memphis.

Bates was reinstated to the team last month after prosecutor­s agreed to drop felony charges against him after police say they found a gun that had altered ID marks in a car he was driving. Defense attorney Steve Haney said the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“It was a struggle for him when he was not with the team,” Heath said. “When he came back and talked to the team, the coaches left. I can just tell you that he appreciate­s his opportunit­y to be back home, playing with a lot of teammates he has known for years.

“What people see is all the hype, but he’s an 18-year-old kid who works really hard to be an elite basketball player.”

Two years ago, the 6-foot-10 guard became the first high school sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in 2020.

He beat out future NBA standouts Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley for the award.

“He started getting compared to Kevin Durant, and that’s hard for any young person,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard recalled.

Howard said Bates’ skills reminded him of what he sees in the NBA.

“There’s a chance for this young man to do some special things in the game of basketball,” Howard said.

Bates was not made available to the media before or after the game, and Heath said it might be a few weeks before he is interviewe­d by reporters.

His 17 first half points matched his season high from a year ago with Memphis. Bates finished 12 of 19, including 3 of 6 from beyond the arc, entertaini­ng fans, including a famous Wolverine, at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.

“Wow,” former NBA and Michigan star Glen Rice said. “I’m rooting for him.”

Clearly, the NBA is also watching.

“Half of the league has had someone at one of our practices to see him,” Heath said.

Big picture

• Eastern Michigan: Bates makes the Mid-American Conference team intriguing to watch. He is one of six players, including four transfers, Heath did not have on the court last season in his coaching debut at his alma mater.

“Eastern Michigan basketball is going to be very good this year,” Heath said.

• Michigan: Outside shooting was a weakness — missing 16 of 21 attempts — that the Wolverines will have to improve as teams pack their defenses in to limit Dickinson.

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