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Memphis Transfer Emoni Bates Announces Surprising Destination

Memphis stars Jalen Duren and Emoni Bates.

MEMPHIS, TN - DECEMBER 10: Jalen Duren #2 and Emoni Bates #1 of the Memphis Tigers walk up the court against the Murray State Racers during a game on December 10, 2021 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. Murray State defeated Memphis 74-72. (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

Emoni Bates, formerly the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2022, is transferring from Memphis to Eastern Michigan. 

Per On3's Joe Tipton, the Ypsilanti, Michigan, native declared that he's "coming home" to play for the MAC squad.

It's an eye-popping choice given his past prospect pedigree. Bates graced the cover of Sports Illustrated three years ago in a feature story wondering if he was the "next in line" behind Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and LeBron James.

The highly recruited forward averaged 9.7 points in 18 games for Memphis during a freshman season that ended early because of a back injury. After entering the transfer portal in April, Bates told Tipton that he was considering Michigan, Arkansas, Seton Hall, DePaul, and Louisville alongside Eastern Michigan.

"People probably look at me crazy because I’m considering Eastern,” Bates told Tipton in early May. “But if I went there, I would be like the neighborhood hero. I used to play at Eastern during my high school games when I was at Lincoln, and we used to pack it out every time. That would be crazy for me to be able to bring love to the city.”

The Eagles have not reached the NCAA tournament since 1998. The men have netted three March Madness wins in the program's history, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 1991 and 1996 triumph over Duke.

Bates could take center stage for a school that went 10-21 last season. While it's not the decision many expected, the 18-year-old has an opportunity to unleash his upside and repair his draft stock at Eastern Michigan.