Emoni Bates, the No. 1 prospect in the transfer portal, has finally announced his transfer destination and will be headed back home to play for Eastern Michigan.
Since he hit the portal after a disappointing freshman season at Memphis, there were two primary options at play for the former high school phenom:
1. The Bates’ were very interested in the idea of going to play at Louisville for new head coach Kenny Payne.
2. The Bates’ were also interested in the idea of going back home and playing at home in Michigan.
After it became clear early on that neither Michigan nor Michigan State would be legit options (don’t forget that Bates was once committed to the Spartans in high school), Louisville became the primary target and the Cardinals racked up a few 247Sports Crystal Ball picks, including one from myself.
Bates heading to Louisville was all but a done deal but as time went on without an announcement and as conversations progressed, things began to gradually shift. Sources have indicated that Louisville gradually cooled off of the recruitment and eventually backed away altogether (I also retroacted my Louisville Crystal Ball, if you’re keeping score at home). Had Louisville not cooled off, all intel indicates that Bates would have been a Cardinal.
Upon Louisville pulling away, Bates’ options became even more narrowed as finding a destination that had a spot available this late in the process was difficult, among the other variables at play.
The rumors got wild. Rumors that Michigan was back in play. Buzz for Eastern Michigan. A few whispers about Kansas State being involved? Even that Memphis — yes, Memphis! — was being rumored to be emerging from the abyss.
When Michigan took Joey Baker and Youssef Khayat last week, the Wolverines officially exited the picture. Eastern Michigan, which went 10-21 last season and hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 1998, started to look like a great option: The Bates’ call Ypsilanti home, Emoni can be a clear No. 1 option for the Eagles and head coach Stan Heath has been around the block. It’s a 5-star-to-the-mid-majors path that’s been taken — with unremarkable results — by guys like Patrick Baldwin Jr. (UW-Milwaukee) and Makur Maker (Howard). The Bates’ are certainly hoping it’s the right spot for Emoni to get his college career back on track; 247Sports still believes in his talent, and there’s no reason to think he can’t play himself back into first-round conversation come 2024.
This content was originally published here.