Emoni Bates Highlights Elite Group of Players to Watch at Thanksgiving Hoopfest

Jason Jordan

Last season more than 12,000 fans flocked to American Airlines Arena in less than two hours to watch the Thanksgiving Hoopfest, making it, arguably, the hottest high school basketball event last year. 

This year the COVID-19 pandemic has done little to impede the talent on-hand, with a double-header featuring some of the most elite players in the country.

First, John Paul II (Plano, Texas) takes on Lancaster (Texas) at 7 p.m. ET, then in the nightcap Ypsi (Mich.) Prep squares off with Duncanville (Texas) at 9 p.m. ET.

Here are the five players you can’t miss at the event.

RELATED: Watch the Thanksgiving Hoopfest live here.

Emoni Bates, Ypsi (Mich.) Prep, SF, 2022

College: Michigan State

What He’s Must-See TV: For two years, Bates has been widely regarded as the top high school prospect in the country, regardless of class. Bates is a 6-foot-9, athletic scoring machine with Kevin Durant-like shooting ability, elite playmaking ability and a motor that remains in overdrive. Bates dropped 36 points and 10 rebounds in a highly publicized duel with the top player in 2021 Chet Holmgren last week.

Zhuric Phelps, Duncanville (Texas), PG, 2021

College: SMU

Why He’s Must-See TV: Phelps is an athletic, shifty and quick floor general who can score on all three levels and energizes his teammates with his “wow” plays and his motor on both ends of the floor. Phelps is coming off a stat-stuffing 22-point, six-rebound, five-assist, three-steal outing against a tough Westlake (Austin, Texas) squad.

Jaylon Tyson, John Paul II (Plano, Texas), SF, 2021

College: Texas Tech

Why He’s Must-See TV: Tyson is a slippery, bouncy and quick wing who can shift the momentum with his ability to score on all three levels. Tyson defends multiple positions and had his full repertoire on display this week in a 25-point, seven-rebound performance against Waxahachie (Texas).

Manny Obaseki, John Paul II (Plano, Texas), CG, 2021

College: Texas A&M

Why He’s Must-See TV: Obaseki is a shifty and athletic guard who keeps the defense off balance with his three-level scoring ability. Obaseki doubles as a gifted playmaker with great vision who competes at a high level on the defensive end.

Ronald Holland, Duncanville (Texas), F, 2023

College: Undecided

Why He’s Must-See TV: Holland is one of the top players in the 2023 class with the versatility, length and athleticism to dominate in multiple ways on both ends of the floor. Holland scores efficiently at all three levels and plays with a high motor.