NCAA

Michigan State Just Landed the Best High School Prospect Since LeBron James

Tom Izzo is known for his NCAA Tournament success more than his recruiting prowess, but he just made a major splash for Michigan State. Emoni Bates, the No. 1 prospect in the 2022 high school class, verbally committed to the Spartans Monday in one of the most anticipated announcements in recent recruiting history. Experts have dubbed Bates the best high school prospect since LeBron James. Others say he’s the next Kevin Durant. Either way, the future is bright for Bates and hopefully Michigan State.

Emoni Bates is the best high school prospect since LeBron James

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When LeBron James came out of high school to enter the NBA draft, general managers across the league couldn’t get enough. James checked every box without even playing a single game in college. He was a future Hall of Famer before he even stepped on an NBA court.

There have been some impressive prospects since James graduated from high school in 2003. Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis, and Kevin Durant were all can’t-miss stars in the making, but none of them had as much hype surrounding them as Bates does.

Bates is widely considered the best high school prospect since James in 2003. Recruiting experts are enamored with his potential. Evan Daniels of 247 Sports called Bates “the best high school prospect that I’ve evaluated at this stage.”

Emoni Bates could be the NBA’s next Kevin Durant

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One name that keeps appearing besides Bates’ is Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant. Bates has a similar body type to the “Slim Reaper” at 6-foot-8 and 200 pounds, and his versatile scoring ability is just as prolific.

Like Durant, Bates can score from anywhere on the court. He can back down smaller guards for an easy layup, drive past even the quickest defenders, and shoot over anyone who matches up with him.

Bates’ jumper is even eerily similar to Durant’s. Both players rise up with their incredible length and shoot from a slightly cock-eyed angle. Hey, if it works for the former NBA Finals MVP, it can work just as well for Bates.

Bates isn’t just an incredible scorer at the high school level. His length allows him to play outstanding on-ball defense and even defend the paint when needed. His leaping ability also makes him an elite rim protector for a small forward.

Spartans fans, you had Draymond Green. Now you’re getting Kevin Durant 2.0. Well, maybe.

Will Emoni Bates play for Michigan State or go straight to the NBA draft?

Emoni Bates had Michigan State in his sights for years. It was always his top choice coming out of high school, so his decision to commit is hardly a surprise.

“They get all my respect I love how they coach, coach Izzo, I like how they focus on defense more than offense. On and off the court, he has passion. He’s just an amazing guy, overall,” Bates told ESPN’s Jeff Borzello.

However, Bates’ commitment does beg the question — will Michigan State fans even see him in a Spartans uniform come 2022?

The NBA recently updated its one-and-done rule, allowing high school prospects to forgo their college careers and enter the NBA draft after graduation. The year the rule goes into effect? 2022.

It remains to be seen whether Bates will don the green and white for Michigan State in a few years, but the Spartans are getting a transcendent superstar if he does.