Go behind the scenes with 15-year-old phenom Emoni Bates as he poses for his first-ever SI cover photoshoot. The no. 1 prospect in the class of 2022, Bates became the youngest high school basketball prospect to ever grace the cover, edging LeBron James.
The high school sophomore appears on the cover of the Nov. 4 issue of Sports Illustrated for a profile by Michael Rosenberg. A 6'9" small forward from Ypsilanti, Mich., Bates has already received scholarship offers from Michigan, Michigan State, DePaul, Florida State and Kentucky.
“Put him on any Division I college team and he could start,” Rosenberg writes. “And yet he has only five scholarship offers. Most big schools aren’t recruiting him because they assume that by 2022, the NBA collective bargaining agreement will allow high schoolers to enter the league, and Emoni will leave Lincoln to be the No. 1 pick.”
Bates’s goal is simple: to be the best player in the history of basketball. He’s already drawn comparisons to Kevin Durant. As a freshman, Bates asked his father to look up LeBron James’s stats from his first year at St. Vincent-St. Mary and set out to top them.
What the future holds for Bates is uncertain. He still has three seasons left of high school ball but it’s a definite possibility that he could choose to graduate in just three years and then have the option to play a season in college or sit out and prepare for the 2022 NBA draft. Whatever he does, the world will be watching.