The Next Kevin Durant Is Coming and He Has a Colossal Decision to Make

Emoni Bates has long been considered one of the best high school basketball players in the country and has drawn comparisons to Kevin Durant. He is also on the cusp of a huge personal decision.

Bates was originally supposed to be part of the class of 2022. However, the prep star has made a choice that could allow him to play collegiate hoops this upcoming fall. There’s another option on the table: the NBA G League.

Emoni Bates is practically a mirror image of Kevin Durant

Bates has been in the spotlight for quite some time.

The Ypsilanti, Michigan native’s unique blend of size and skill has practically made him a household name since he was about 12 years old. That blend has also spawned quite a few comparisons to Kevin Durant.

Durant is widely regarded as one of the greatest scorers in NBA history. He has the size, handle, and shooting stroke to dominate from the perimeter while using his explosiveness and athleticism to make plays around the rim.

Bates is a similar talent. He boats exceptional all-around scoring ability and is practically unstoppable going downhill in the open floor. The comparisons don’t stop there, though. Much like Durant, Bates has a wiry frame. He figures to grow into his body as he ages, but it’s easy to look at him and see the resemblance to a young KD.

Not too many prep stars have the kind of talent that earns them the cover of Sports Illustrated. LeBron James was one. Bates is another.

Bates is reclassifying to the Class of 2021

Bates is wasting little time in advancing his basketball career.

The No. 1 prospect in high school basketball recently announced he was reclassifying to the Class of 2021, making him eligible to enroll at a college of his choosing this fall. His list of schools includes Michigan State (he decommited from MSU this past spring), Oregon, Baylor, and Memphis.

However, Bates is also weighing heading directly to the NBA G League. Skipping college for the G League has become an increasingly popular route for prep stars, as recent draftees Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga were among those who starred for the G League Ignite before declaring.

Bates’ decision to reclassify might make it seem like he hopes to skip a step and get to the NBA as quickly as possible. But it’s a little more complicated than that. Unlike Kevin Durant, he won’t be able to jump to the pros even if he becomes a freshman sensation this fall.

Bates will not be eligible to enter the NBA Draft until 2023

Prep star Emoni Bates dribbles up the floor
Emoni Bates will not be in the NBA until 2023 at the earliest | by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As ESPN‘s Jeff Borzello noted, the NBA mandates that a draft prospect must be a year removed from his high school graduating class and turn 19 in the same calendar year to enter the draft.

Bates will not turn 19 until January of 2023, so he is ineligible for the 2022 NBA Draft.

This presents Bates with some interesting options. He could play collegiate hoops for two seasons before going pro or play one season in college and a year of professional ball thereafter. Alternatively, he could decide to play two seasons in the G League.

Ultimately, Bates will have to decide which route is the most favorable in terms of personal development. Green seemingly boosted his draft stock with his standout performance in the G League. The drawback is that G League players don’t quite have the same national profile as college stars.

Then again, Emoni Bates has already earned a decent share of the national spotlight. That tends to happen when you’ve been compared to Kevin Durant since adolescence.

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