Don’t Get Too Excited About the Emoni Bates Transfer

The former Memphis Tigers recruit won't move the needle at Eastern Michigan

The town of Ypsilanti, Michigan (population: 20,648) isn’t exactly known for regularly appearing on the ESPN ticker. 

Nevertheless, big college basketball news is coming out of Ypsilanti. The college basketball odds market got a bit of a shock to the system last week when former No. 1 recruit Emoni Bates announced that he would transfer to Eastern Michigan.

Not Michigan. Not Michigan State. Eastern Michigan.

Woah.

Bates – originally a member of the Class of 2022 – reclassified to the Class of 2021 and committed to play for Memphis last season. 

However, after a disappointing year with head coach Penny Hardaway and the Tigers, Bates was told he would not be welcome back with the Memphis program for his sophomore season.

That news set the stage for last week’s bomb.

Emoni Bates: Transfer to Eastern Michigan is Not as Crazy as it Seems

Like any good online sports betting analyst, I asked myself the obvious question after the Bates news broke last week: “Has Eastern Michigan ever been priced in the NCAA basketball odds futures market?”

I’m guessing that answer is no, though I don’t have an official confirmation. I was considering buying an EMU title ticket just to say I did. I could print it out and frame it on my office wall or something. It’d be like something off the Smallville Wall of Weird.

But as I read more about Bates and talked to other college basketball betting experts, I realized that “Bates to Eastern Michigan” is a much more compelling headline than a storyline. 

In the decade or so since LeBron James left Miami to return to Cleveland, sports fans (especially basketball fans) have developed a soft spot for homecoming storylines.

Bates – who was billed as the next LeBron by Sports Illustrated – was born in Ypsilanti. It’s all too easy to view this event as if a great underdog story had a baby with a great homecoming story.

Unfortunately, the truth appears to be far less romantic than that. Bates has an overbearing father trying to micromanage his son’s team from outside the locker room. That’s a situation that no serious head coach would want. 

Word travels fast in college basketball circles, and Hardaway appears to have put the word out. A number of P5 schools passed on Bates as a transfer.

Thus, he ended up at Eastern Michigan, in his hometown – right down the street from his father. 

Everyone knows how talented Emoni Bates is, but don’t expect too much from Eastern Michigan in 2023.

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