Ever since LeBron James became famous as one of the best high school players, was believed to be the next big thing in the NBA and ended up being exactly that, every teenager considered a ‘phenom’ is tagged as the next LeBron. The most recent case is Zion Williamson, the most hyped rookie in the NBA since, James himself.
But after Zion, more players will earn the tag of ‘next LeBron’ and there is a 15-year-old teenager that is already compared with the King. Emoni Bates is a native of Ypsilanti, Michigan; a 6-foot-8 forward ranked as the top prospect in the class of 2022.
One youth basketball observer explained to ESPN that Bates has “size, skill, killer mentality, shooting ability,” a combination that this person has never seen out of a player of his age.
“In the best freshman conversation, he’s 1,” another youth basketball expert told ESPN.com. “He’s better than LeBron as a freshman. Bron was good, real good. Emoni is dominant.”
“He has a chance to be ahead of LeBron. I’ve never seen a better freshman,” a longtime scout told the website. “He’s a prospect that’s dominant as a ninth-grader. That’s rare. Normally prospects are guys with high upside or potential that you haven’t fulfilled. His potential is high, but he’s doing it now.”
Bates led Lincoln High School in Michigan to its first state title last season and was just great at the Nike Peach Jam amateur showcase last month, averaging 32.3 points, 10 rebounds and four assists per game.
Some people suggest that should the NBA eliminate their one-and-done rule, allowing high school players to once again go straight into the draft as other superstars did in the past, Bates likely would be the No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft.
One person even claimed that Bates could’ve even been No. 1 this year ahead of the all-hyped Zion Williamson. That says a lot about this guy.
People around this kid see what he’s going to bring to the NBA once he makes it there. Comparisons with LeBron, Kevin Durant and more aren’t stranger for him. Still, we have to wait until he lands in the association and see if he’s able to fulfill his potential and become the superstar everyone expects him to be.