Ypsilanti Lincoln's Emoni Bates is first sophomore to win Gatorade national player of the year

Emoni_Bates_Screen Shot 2019-03-28 at 6.29.03 PM.png
Posted at 10:00 AM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 18:52:16-04

(WXYZ) — Emoni Bates is the Gatorade national boys basketball player of the year.

It's the latest honor for the Ypsilanti Lincoln standout, who is the first sophomore to ever win the award.

Bates averaged 31 points and led Lincoln to a 19-3 record. In 2018-19, Lincoln won the state championship in a season that saw Bates average 28.5 points per game. As a freshman, Bates won Michigan's Gatorade player of the year and Div. 1 AP player of the year awards. He repeated both awards during his sophomore season.

"This is No. 1. This is a big, big award. This is my No. 1," Bates said on a conference call.

Gatorade surprised Bates with the announcement through social media posts from athletes including Dwyane Wade and Jayson Tatum. Then Tatum formally told Bates on a video call.

"He has the capabilities to do anything," Tatum said on a conference call. "It really puts you in a special group."

"A national advisory panel comprised of sport-specific experts and sports journalists helped select Bates from more than half a million high school boys basketball players nationwide," Gatorade said in a release.

Bates beat out to other finalists for the award, both seniors: Cade Cunningham, from Arlington, Texas, who signed with Oklahoma State, and Evan Mobley, from Temecula, California, who will play at USC.

Bates is a finalist now for the Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year award, announced in July.

“Emoni Bates is the newest generational talent in the high school game,” Paul Biancardi of ESPN Basketball said via Gatorade. "When his time comes for the NBA Draft, we project him as the No. 1 pick.”

Bates was the 2019 MaxPreps National Freshman of the Year and projects him as the No. 1 overall NBA prospect in high school basketball.

“He’s incredible on and off the court and we look forward to seeing him continue to succeed in his chosen sport and beyond," Gatorade senior VP and General Manager Brett O’Brien said.

Former Gatorade players of the year have combined to win five NBA MVP awards, make 69 All-Star appearances, and 26 became NBA first round draft picks.

Former boys basketball Gatorade national players of the year include Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Tatum. James, Greg Oden, and Brandon Knight each won the award twice. James, Greg Oden, and Brandon Knight each won the award twice.

Past National player of the year award winners from Michigan are Chris Webber, LaVell Blanchard, and Kevin Torbert.