“I’m committing to Eastern Michigan,” Bates said. “I’m coming home.”
He further confirmed the move with a video posted to his Instagram page.
Bates, who just a few years ago was considered a generational recruit, will look to set his NBA dreams back in motion at the MAC program in his hometown, one that went just 10–21 a year ago.
He played in 18 games for the Tigers in 2021–22, averaging 9.7 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. He shot under 39% from the field and 33% from three-point range, converting 64.6% of his free throws on the year. Bates missed all of February and some of March with a back injury, before returning to play in the NCAA tournament. He scored three points in three minutes against Boise State, and five points in 12 minutes in the team’s near-upset of top-seeded Gonzaga.
Despite Bates’s pedigree as an elite recruit—and a reported list of power conference suitors after his decision to transfer—according to Sports Illustrated‘s Pat Forde, he ultimately did not draw robust interest from around the sport.
EMU last made the men’s NCAA basketball tournament in 1998, after winning the MAC tournament that year. After that season, Derrick Dial was drafted by the Spurs in the second round of the NBA draft, the last former Eagles player to be selected by an NBA franchise. That team also featured long-time NBA guard Earl Boykins, who went undrafted.
“People probably look at me crazy because I’m considering Eastern,” Bates previously told On3. “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.”
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