Emoni Bates Scouting Report

CONTEXT

  • Top-ranked prospect in the 2022 high school class[1];
  • Projected to be the first prospect drafted straight out of graduating high school, without the need to take a fake internship or a post-graduate year to enter the NBA without going to college or signing outside the United States, with the league expected to go back to the old rules in 2022;
  • Turned 15 in January[2];
  • Measured at six-foot-eight with a six-foot-nine wingspan and weighed in at 165 pounds at the Nike Elite 100 camp last month[3];
    • Broad shoulders suggest his frame should fill up in time;
  • Ball-dominant wing who plays more of an isolation-oriented game in AAU, while mixing in a few post-ups, some work in pick-and-roll and spotting up away from the ball a little bit in high school;
  • Uneven defender, as common with young teenagers – when engaged, can make a difference reaching around for strips on the ball, jumping passing lanes and walling off the front of the rim in rotation but doesn’t play with that sort of intensity regularly and is not a dominant figure on this end;
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan native who led Ypsilanti Lincoln High School to a state championship in his freshman year of high school last season;
  • Averaged 32.3 points per game on 54.5% shooting at the Nike Peach Jam last month[4] but BATES Fundamentals, coached by his father, lost in the first round of the elimination stage in the E15 division.

SHOOTING

  • Gunner who takes any opportunity he can get to launch a long bomb – at times pulling up from way past NBA range;
  • Hasn’t yet developed wide step-backs and side-steps that you are used to seeing from elite isolation gunners like James Harden and Luka Doncic, which could eventually make his pull-ups nearly uncontestable, but already has a deep arsenal of resources to get his shot off one-on-one;
    • Loves to go between the legs into a stop-and-pop three-pointer but also launches jumpers off hang dribbles, step-throughs, pull-backs, spin moves, jab-steps;
  • Sets an unorthodox base, bringing his knees closer together than you are used to seeing, and has a low release out in front but gets a good deal of elevation for someone who stands at six-foot-eight to get his shot off comfortably over every single defender within his age group;
  • Does shot prep with 1-2 footwork on catch-and-shoot’s and has good fluidity in his release, despite needing to take a pronounced dip for rhythm, with a quick trigger for someone his height thanks to compact mechanics;
    • Besides spot-ups, took a few shots on the move off relocating around the wing to offer his teammates a clearer passing lane but hasn’t yet shown what sort of versatility he has in his release – rarely coming off screens or working as the screener in pick-and-pop;
  • Showed glimpses of having a knack for getting to his spots in pick-and-roll;
  • Posts up smaller matchups from time-to-time and as he lacks the combination of strength and physicality to get a deep seal regularly, got pushed out further away from the mid-post often and showed to be more comfortable letting it happen, so he could face-up;
    • Hasn’t yet developed a patient approach operating with his back to the basket or any post moves to try getting his defender out of position prior to getting his shot off;
    • Mostly just faces up and shoots over the top;
    • Flashed a turnaround fadeaway jumper off a hiked leg.

FINISHING

  • Very comfortable on grab-and-go’s off a defensive rebound and can take it end-to-end or slow transition into an isolation but rarely triggers offense that involves his teammates;
  • Doesn’t have a quick first step out of a standstill position to blow by his man on speed but can maintain his balance and his momentum forward through contact well enough against his age group, mixing in a well-coordinated spin move to gain momentum into the lane from time-to-time;
  • Flashed a good feel for declining the ball-screen and an in-and-out dribble to manipulate his man into it operating in middle high pick-and-roll;
  • Explosive leaper off one foot in space but most often looks to gallop into two-foot leaps in traffic;
  • Flashed some flexibility to adjust his body in the air with a rim protector parked between him and the basket but has so far shown to be a basic finisher who looks for speed layups for the most part;
    • That said, hasn’t gotten all that many opportunities to show if he has any versatility to his finishing package because he lives at the foul line playing against his age group – despite his thin frame, his style of play invites plenty of contact as he drives;
  • Has shown a good deal of dexterity on floaters with either hand off 1-2 footwork, euro-steps and spin moves – missing only a floater off a jump-stop to complete his tear-drop package;
  • Can play above the rim as a target for lobs sneaking behind the defense but doesn’t get many alley-oop opportunities with the teams he plays with;
  • Occasional put-back threat but not tenacious enough to get several of those a game.

PASSING

  • Flashed some appealing court vision hitting the weakside corner over the top in pick-and-roll and off drawing two to the ball in isolation – height allows him to see over traffic;
  • Showed glimpses of being able to hit the stretch big over the top with good rhythm operating in pick-and-pop;
  • Willing to throw outlet passes if a teammate manages to leak out;
  • A bit of a reckless passer going for style plays at times.

DEFENSE

  • Played a role as more of a weakside defender with both BATES Fundamentals and Ypsilanti Lincoln High School, though he logged some time at center during the state championship game against Detroit Jesuit;
  • Edge in height and length was enough for him to discourage opponents from pulling the trigger with his so-so closeouts but got blown by often as those opponents put the ball on the floor;
  • Prone to ball watching and giving up a backdoor cut from time-to-time;
  • Showed flashes of activity rotating in to block shots from behind;
  • Was diligent with his responsibilities stepping up to the front of the rim as the last line of defense – didn’t really explode off the ground to block shots or challenge them via verticality in volume but guards with his arms up near the rim, with those wall-offs good enough to make a difference within his age group;
  • Flashed some advanced position defense stopping the ball in pick-and-roll defense as a big on a show-and-recover;
  • Does not boxout – solely relying on his ability to rebound outside of his area to make plays on the glass;
  • Not a stout post defender but guards with his arms up, which tends to be enough to discourage opponents from trying to shoot over him;
  • Can jump a passing lane but doesn’t really play with the sort of energy to fly around and act as a dominant force on defense;
  • Attentive to his responsibilities switching on the fly and picked up shiftier ball handlers on occasion;
    • Gets down in a stance often but at times hunches down rather than bends his knees;
    • When engaged, showed some decent side-to-side mobility to keep pace one-on-one and quick reactions to leverage his length into reaching around for strips or blocking shots defending on the ball;
    • For the most part, didn’t stay in front of out in space but proved himself capable of staying attached and flashed some impressive hustle bothering from the side when he got beat;
    • Not built to slide around screens, neither at the point of attack nor chasing moving shooters around the floor.

[1] According to ESPN

[2] DOB: 1/28/2004

[3] According to Rivals

[4] According to d1circuit.com

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara

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