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Emoni Bates scores 63 points and takes 21

rebounds in Ypsilanti Lincoln’s extraordinary 108-102 brace against Chelsea on Tuesday 18 February 2020.

Detroit Free Press

Ten years ago, Tom Izzo waited to hear from LeBron James.

The call never came.

Izzo refused to jump to the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers and instead stayed in the state of Michigan. Less than a month later, James announced on ESPN that he would bring his talents to Miami.

It turned out to be the right move for Izzo.

[ 25 years of ‘Mr. March’: Preorder our updated Tom Izzo book today! ]

And on Monday he finally got his generational talent in Emoni Bates.

Emoni Bates engaged in the state of Michigan on ESPN’s SportsCenter show on Monday. (Photo: ESPN)

Now, he has to wait to see when – and if – that union can happen. And if he does, there is a chance that Izzo may have the budding superstar for two years, and not one.

Bates’ incredible midday announcement to engage in MSU could eventually be “The decision” for the Spartans. In two years at Ypsilanti Lincoln, the 6-foot-9 athletic striker has become one of the country’s most acclaimed high school prospects, possibly since James dropped out of college for the NBA nearly two decades ago.

“I’m not sure what the future holds,” said Bates as he and his family raised their Spartan hats on their heads, “but as I know now, I will commit to Michigan State University.”

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Way to go

Bates is Izzo’s first commitment for the 2022 class. But much can happen between now and then that will weigh on his decision to go to the MSU or go elsewhere.

He could even stay around East Lansing for two years.

Emoni Bates of Ypsilanti Lincoln drives against Ann Arbor Huron during the first half of the EMU Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, Tuesday March 3, 2020. (Photo: Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press)

• The most interesting possibility is that Bates could reclassify and give up his high school season to enter college a year earlier and join the guard. Pierre Brooks II as part of the Spartan class 2021. Both Bates and his father, Elgin, told ESPN’s Jeff Borzello that he hadn’t made any decisions; however, Sports Illustrated’s Michael Rosenberg reported Monday that Bates will reclassify. “After this year he will tell me everything I need to know,” Bates told ESPN. “I can’t decide right now. After this year, if it’s too easy, I could – but if not, I’ll probably play another year.”

Her father, who is setting up his own prep school, Ypsilanti Prep Aim High, told ESPN: “By the end of his final year, he will be able to graduate. We do not know yet. It depends on him, it is a daily thing for him. It could be a decision he decides to make later. “

[ Windsor: Emoni Bates is a monumental win for MSU, even if he never plays ]

• Bates’ birthday makes any decision to reclassify more about going to college early, not about becoming professional.

Experts believed that the league would lower the age limit for the draw from 19 to 18 last year (currently a player must turn 19 in the draw year and be removed from high school one year). It was a hot topic in college and the NBA for the latter part of 2010, and many thought that Bates would become the first beneficiary of a potential rule change after his 18 years in 2022.

However, discussions on the elimination of the one-and-done rule have gone from an agreement apparently concluded in early 2019 to a dead end during the ongoing labor negotiations this winter. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski in April reported that the change in rules may not be on the table until 2025 as soon as possible now as part of the next collective bargaining agreement.

Bates was born on January 28, 2004, which means he cannot enter the NBA draft until 2023 after turning 19. Even if he reclassifies, he would not be eligible for the 2022 draft, which would have allowed him to stay in MSU for two seasons.

Ypsilanti Lincoln’s Emoni Bates (21) exits the field after the Railsplitters have won 72-56 over Howell in the MHSAA Division 1 semifinal at Breslin Center in East Lansing, Friday March 15, 2019. (Photo: Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press)

• In addition, Bates would not meet the 18 year G League minimum age requirements for the 2021-22 season and would not be eligible for the NBA development system design until the 2022-23 season.

He could choose not to reclassify, take his last two years of high school at his father’s newly created Ypsilanti Prep Academy, and then enter the G League. Or Bates could reclassify, play a year at the MSU and then test the G League. Recently the G League has started to push some high-end players away from colleges, including prospect n. 1 of 2020, Jalen Greens and former Michigan hired Isaiah Todd, with a $ 500,000 increase in salaries.

However, Bates told ESPN that he would prefer to play basketball in college.

“It is good for some players. It’s a lot of money, “he said.” I’m not really going to think about it, I don’t think I will. It is good for some people, but I don’t think I will follow that path. “

• Discussions are urgent and ongoing across the country within the NCAA, state and federal laws on athletes who are able to financially capitalize on their names, images and similarities. And a rising megahyped star like Bates would be a great test case of a college athlete’s peak value for sponsorships.

In May, the Michigan House of Representatives with a 94-13 vote approved a bipartisan plan to allow college athletes to earn compensation in their likeness. Many of these guidelines would go into effect before the end of 2022 if the state Senate passed the bill, which would give Bates the chance to financially capitalize on his status as one of the best prospects in the game.

Such laws and rules could also be accelerated as an increasing number of states are enacting laws that allow athletes to start exercising their name, image and similarity rights as soon as next summer.

• Bates could follow the LaMelo Ball foreign route and a handful of other major prospects took it up to become eligible for the project, and earn a sizable paycheck. It would not accelerate Bates’ path to the NBA because of his birthday.

And this also seems the least likely option given Bates’ strong feelings for Izzo and MSU’s technical staff.

“I want to thank coach Iz and (assistant coach Mike Garland) for being with me since I was younger and I have been there during the process,” said Bates on ESPN. “They have shown me love since I was in second grade, since then they have recruited me hard. I only know that they are showing that their love is genuine and they have been there for a long time.

“I am great on loyalty and they have shown me all loyalty.”

Coup for two?

Izzo could be rewarded for that persistence – potentially for two years – if Bates didn’t turn professional.

MSU coaches cannot speak to recruits until they sign a letter of intent. But it is not necessary when that player is consensus no. 1 in its class and considered among the best prospects of this century.

Bates’ announcement is as big as when Magic Johnson said after winning the 1977 state championship as a senior at Lansing Everett that, “I will attend Michigan State University next year.” That announcement he gave Izzo’s mentor Jud Heathcote the key piece for the Spartans’ first national championship in 1979, and Johnson left for the NBA after his second season at MSU.

Izzo had his share of very successful recruits, with Mateen Cleaves’ decision in 1996, the basis for the 2000 Spartan national championship. In recent years, Miles Bridges in 2016 and Jaren Jackson Jr. a year later have become the most highly rated recruits of the Hall of Fame coach, along with Kelvin Torbert in 2001.

But no one is comparable to Bates, who has been advertised as the best in the nation in his age group – and then some – since he knocked the dunks down as a second-year student.

High school basketball star Emoni Bates looks on during the second half of the game between Michigan State and Maryland on Saturday February 15, 2020 at the Breslin Center in East Lansing. (Photo: Nick King / Lansing State Journal)

One of his early suitors was Izzo, who spent every chance he could drive to see Lincoln play in the past two years. Bates was a frequent visitor to MSU and made friends with some Spartans, and Izzo was reportedly the only college manager to contact him at midnight on June 15 – the first time he was able to talk to the players who ended their second season.

And those years and that late night phone call paid off at 1:48 pm on Monday, when Bates smiled beaming while wearing the white hat with the green Spartan logo.

It wasn’t Chris Webber or Jabari Parker, the two players who fled Izzo, whom he still regrets. Forget LeBron, who would have loved to train.

Bates could be Izzo’s Magic and help him win a second national title in the twilight of his coaching career. And maybe, like Magic, he will also have two years to do it.

This if Izzo’s biggest dream becomes reality.

Contact Chris Solari: csolari@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari. Learn more about Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Spartans newsletter.