Emoni Bates takes center stage as part of a top-10 matchup on Tuesday as Memphis hosts No. 6 Alabama.
Bates and the Tigers are struggling as they’ve dropped four straight games since opening the season 5-0. It’s been a relatively quiet start for the five-star freshman who leads the Tigers in scoring with 11.2 points per game on just 38.8 percent shooting.
NBA fans tuning in to catch Bates for the first time might be wondering why his name doesn’t appear on any early mock drafts and it has nothing to do with his slow start.
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Here is everything you need to know about five-star recruit’s unique draft status.
Why isn’t Memphis star Emoni Bates eligible for the 2022 NBA Draft?
Bates is as highly touted of a prospect as they come, ranked as the No. 2 player in the high school class of 2022 before electing to reclassify to the class of 2021. Even as a reclassified 17-year-old, Bates was still ranked as the No. 4 prospect in the class of 2021, receiving offers from all of the top programs in the country.
The 6-foot-9 forward originally committed to Michigan State to play under head coach Tom Izzo in June of 2020, but changed his mind, instead deciding to attend Memphis to play under head coach Penny Hardaway.
This decision allowed Bates to team up with his AAU runningmate and potential top-five pick in the 2022 NBA Draft in Jalen Duren, giving the Tigers one of the most talented duos in the country as they enter the season ranked No. 12 by the Associated Press.
Bates was voted as a Sporting News Preseason Second Team All-American and often draws comparisons to NBA superstar Kevin Durant because of his slender frame and ability to score the ball from anywhere on the floor.
He is undeniably one of the best prospects in the country but by the NBA’s current rules, Bates will not be able to enter his name into the 2022 NBA Draft.
The NBA’s draft eligibility rules state that all drafted players must be at least 19 years old within their draft calendar year, meaning, Bates would have to turn 19 in 2022 to be eligible for the 2022 NBA Draft.
With his birthday being January 28, 2004, Bates is currently 17 years old and will only be 18 by the end of 2022.
That means he will either have to play two seasons at Memphis and then enter the draft, or play one season at Memphis and take the following year off to train for the draft before becoming eligible in 2023.
While there have been talks in the past to lower the NBA’s draft eligibility age to 18, there has been no update on the progress of those conversations ahead of the 2022 NBA Draft.
Barring a rule change, Bates will have to wait until 2023 to hear his name called by NBA commissioner Adam Silver.