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Elite Hoops Decommitments are Just Beginning

Emoni Bates and Nolan Hickman were the two biggest decommitments last week.

MJ Rice and Dillon Hunter, two of the top players in the 2022 class, don’t profess to know the future, but last week when they told SI that the NCAA lifting the dead period on June 1 and allowing players to visit campuses again would translate to decommitments their sentiments proved to be spot on.

On Friday, Ypsi Prep (Ypsilanti, Mich.) wing Emoni Bates, widely regarded as the top player in the 2022 class, decommitted from Michigan State after being committed to the Spartans since June.

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Bates’ “back out” wasn’t a total shock, the buzz around him has been leaning toward him ultimately taking the pro route when it’s all said and done.

In his statement regarding the decommitment, Bates said this time around in his recruitment he would be “keeping all of my options open, both college and pro.”

Texas and Tennessee have already offered Bates, but the sentiment among multiple college coaches is that Bates’ recruitment is likely a waste of time.

“I mean is he really coming to college?” one college coach told SI, speaking under condition of anonymity. “I mean c’mon.”

Expect Overtime’s new pro league, the G League and multiple overseas leagues to break the bank trying to land Bates, who is projected as the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.

On the same day as Bates, Wasatch Academy (Mount Pleasant, Utah) point guard Nolan Hickman asked for a release from Kentucky due to a combination of Tony Barbee leaving the Wildcats staff to become the head coach at Central Michigan and Hickman being homesick, according to Hickman’s father.

Hickman originally hails from Washington, and attended Eastside Catholic High School in Sammamish, Wash., before transferring to Wasatch this season.

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In August, he picked Kentucky over Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma and UCLA; this go around expect Hickman to be more west coast focused.

Earlier in the week, Dream City Christian (Glendale, Ariz.) forward Arthur Kaluma decommitted from UNLV. The move was a forgone conclusion after T.J. Otzelberger left to take the head coaching job at Iowa State and Kaluma’s friend and fellow 2021 commit Zaon Collins was dropped by the Runnin’ Rebels following his arrest for a car crash in December that killed another driver.

As Overtime ramps up meetings and offers to players and as June 1 approaches, expect more decommitments to follow in the coming weeks, especially in the 2022 class.

“Now that we can get out to see these schools, we all want the full experience,” Rice said. “I think with all the transfers we’ve had this season it’s smarter to get out and see schools to make sure; whether you’re committed or not.”