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Louisville Transfer Target Emoni Bates Commits to Eastern Michigan

The former Memphis forward and No. 1 overall high school prospect had the Cardinals in his top six.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The recruitment for former Memphis forward and Louisville men's basketball transfer target Emoni Bates has finally come to an end, but he will not be playing for the Cardinals.

Bates announced Wednesday on Instagram that he will be returning to his hometown, and suiting up for Eastern Michigan for his sophomore (and presumably final) year in college. Since he does not turn 19 until next January, he is not eligible for the 2022 NBA Draft, but can declare in 2023.

A former No. 1 overall prospect coming out of high school, he entered the portal back in mid-April after just one season at Memphis. Louisville head coach Kenny Payne immediately inserted the Cardinals into the mix, with UofL quickly becoming the odds-on favorite to land him.

However, it was reported in early May that he would not commit until mid-June, and the hometown Wolverines used the extra time to make a run at Bates and put pressure on Louisville. Once that deadline passed, and Michigan filled their roster with other transfers, speculation began to arise that he could commit to Eastern Michigan considering they are located in his hometown of Ypsilanti, Mich.

It's hard to call it a major loss for Louisville, considering how long the recruitment had been drawn out and the questions that popped up surrounding if he actually wanted to be a Cardinal, but UofL's roster for the upcoming 2022-23 is fairly imbalanced.

Sydney Curry, El Ellis, Mike James, Jae'Lyn Withers, J.J. Traynor and Roosevelt Wheeler all announced that they would return for next season. With 2022 prospects Kamari Lands and Devin Ree, plus former Tennessee big man Brandon Huntley-Hatfield joining the fold, the Cardinals have a solid collection of players at the wing and in the frontcourt.

However, the backcourt is extremely thin. While James and Lands can take reps at the two, Ellis is the only true guard currently on the roster. Louisville is also very much in the mix for Orlando (Fla.) Oak Ridge point guard Fabio Basili, but issues with his transcript have kept him from pulling the trigger and committing.

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There is still some time for Payne to land another guard from the portal or high school, but the pool of players is getting low. If he wants to have the Cardinals be competitive in his first year at the helm, Louisville has to land at least one more true ball handler, and ideally two more.

Bates was the consensus No. 1 player in the Class of 2022, but opted to reclassify to the 2021 class. He was once committed to Michigan State before decommitting and enrolling at Memphis after his reclassification.

The 6-foot-9, 190-pound wing had an up-and-down freshman campaign with the Tigers. He opened the 2021-22 season scoring double figures in three straight games, only to reach that mark five times the rest of the year. He averaged 9.7 points and 3.3 rebounds over 18 total games and 13 starts, but also shot 38.6 percent from the field and had 42 turnovers to 23 assists.

He missed the final nine games of the regular season and Memphis' three games in the AAC Tournament due to a lower back injury, even going back home to seek a second opinion. He came off the bench in the Tigers' two NCAA Tournament games against Boise State and Gonzaga, totaling eight points in 15 minutes played.

(Photo of Emoni Bates: Petre Thomas - USA TODAY Sports)

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