| The Detroit News
Emoni Bates’ stock never was higher than a year ago when he was placed on the cover of Sports Illustrated, then averaged 31 points and 10 rebounds to put Ypsilanti Lincoln in a Division 1 district final.
But, Bates’ sophomore season was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, preventing him from helping Lincoln repeat as state champions, having its season come to a close at 19-3 and just a week after he scored 48 in a one-sided win against a strong Grand Rapids Catholic Central team.
Bates had scored 40 or more points in five games, including a 63-point performance in a double-overtime win over Chelsea.
During the summer, Bates’ father, Elgin, decided to start a prep school, Ypsilanti Prep Academy, so the 6-foot-9 Emoni and his new teammates could face the top competition in the country during his junior year.
Ypsilanti Prep Academy — ranked No. 4 by MaxPreps prior to the season — lost its opener to Team Sizzle and 7-foot senior Chet Holmgren, who proved to be the best player on the floor.
After the exhibition loss, Bates and Ypsilanti Prep went on to a 7-2 record, losing 78-65 to Duncanville (Texas), currently ranked No. 9 by MaxPreps, early in the season with Bates scoring 28 on 9-of-21 shooting, 3-of-10 from 3-point range while turning the ball over six times.
In a 68-64 loss to Lake Norman Christian (North Carolina) on Feb. 6, Bates scored 20 on 7-of-18 shooting, including 3-of-8 from 3-point range.
Even in wins, Bates has struggled from the floor, including a 60-57 win over ISA (Ohio) Dec. 3, where he scored 23 on 8-of-23 shooting, 2-of-11 from deep, and scored 19 on Jan. 9 in a 79-74 overtime win over Air Nado, making 6-of-24 shots, including 2-of-14 3s.
Still, Bates is No. 1 on The News list of Blue Chip players from across the state.
Bates has a big decision to make. It’s still up in the air on if Bates plans to reclassify and play next year at Michigan State or remain at Ypsilanti Prep Academy and hope for a better season.
So, would Bates reclassify and play next season at Michigan State? Jaden Akins, a Michigan State signee, followed Bates to Ypsilanti Prep before opting to finish his senior season at No. 3 Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas.
Ypsilanti Prep will play Blue Majic of Virginia on Saturday in Norfolk, Virginia.
► 2. Dillon Hunter, 6-4, Jr., G, Ypsilanti Prep Academy: Hunter is one of the top shooting guards in the country for the 2022 class. He has size at 6-4 and quickness, which enables him to score in a variety of ways.
Hunter can set up his teammates as well, while shutting his opponent down at the defensive end due to that size and quickness. He had 23 points, five assists, four rebounds and four steals in a win over First Love Christian (Pennsylvania) last month.
Hunter, who played last season at Atlanta Westlake, is a Baylor commit.
► 3. Shawn Phillips, 6-10, Jr., C, Ypsilanti Prep Academy: Phillips is a big body at 6-10 and 250 pounds, giving him the opportunity to dominate around the rim, backed up with his 26-point, 20-rebound effort in a 79-74 win over Air Nado last month, making 12-of-13 shots from the field, including multiple dunks.
Phillips, who played last season at Dayton (Ohio) Belmont, already owns offers from Ohio State, Auburn, Xavier, Dayton, Cincinnati, North Carolina State and Indiana.
► 4. Pierre Brooks II, 6-6, Sr., G, Detroit Douglass: Brooks — a 6-foot-6, 215-pound senior guard/forward — has the ability to score from the perimeter or attacking the basket.
Brooks, who signed with Michigan State, is a front-runner for the state’s Mr. Basketball award. He averaged 23.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and four assists to lead Douglass to a 17-5 record and trip to the PSL title game, a loss to Detroit Cass Tech.
Douglass competed in Division 2 last season, advancing to the district final when the season was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Douglass will be competing in Division 4 this year after ending its co-op with Benjamin Carson School.
► 5. Kobe Bufkin, 6-4, Sr., G, Grand Rapids Christian: Bufkin can play point guard or shooting guard and showcases great playmaking skills with the ability to score in transition or by making the jumper. He averaged 22 points, five rebounds and four assists to help Grand Rapids Christian to a 20-2 record before the season came to a halt.
Bufkin will play next year at Michigan.
► 6. Julian Roper, 6-3, Sr., G, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s: Roper was the second option on a strong St. Mary’s team which featured Mr. Basketball finalist Lorne Bowman last season. An outstanding athlete and strong defender, he averaged 17 points to help St. Mary’s win its first Catholic League championship since 2008 while ending U-D Jesuit’s run of seven straight league titles.
Roper will play next year at Northwestern.
► 7. Ty Rodgers, 6-6, Jr., F, Grand Blanc: Rodgers was consistently the focus of opposing teams’ defenses last season and still made a big impact on both ends of the court, averaging 14 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three blocks to help Grand Blanc to an 18-3 record and Saginaw Valley South Division title.
Rodgers, the nephew of former Michigan State star Jason Richardson, is expected to be a front-runner for Mr. Basketball in 2022. He has more than a dozen offers, including Michigan and Michigan State.
► 8. Legend Geeter, 6-8, Sr., F, River Rouge: Geeter has been a key contributor since his freshman year, helping River Rouge to a 66-5 record, including a state semifinal appearance his freshman year, a state title game appearance his sophomore year and a 20-1 record last season. He averaged 16 points and eight rebounds last season and has developed his perimeter game heading into his senior season.
Geeter will play next year at Providence.
► 9. Javaughn Hannah, 6-4, Jr., G, Ypsilanti Prep Academy: The former Mount Clemens star has size (6-4) and quickness, and has the ball-handling skills to go coast-to-coast and score in transition and the ability to knock down the 3-pointer. He showed his potential with a 20-point performance in a 73-46 win over First Love Christian (Pennsylvania) last month, making 6-of-8 3-pointers, also having a strong all-around game (17 points, nine rebounds, five assists) in a win over Air Nado.
Hannah has multiple offers, including Iowa, Arizona State and Marquette.
► 10. Julian Lewis, 6-6, Sr., G, Ann Arbor Huron: Lewis has the ability to play multiple positions and his size and athleticism enables him to be an elite defender. He averaged 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists last season to help Huron to a 21-1 record, including a win over defending Division 1 state champion Ypsilanti Lincoln and Bates when he scored 20.
Lewis will play next year at Williams & Mary.
► 11. Curtis Williams, 6-6, So., G-F, Birmingham Brother Rice: Williams is one of the premier sophomores in the state, showcasing the ability to handle the ball and score in transition, make the 3-pointer or mid-range jumper. He also causes problems defensive with his quickness and leaping ability.
Williams, who shot 39% from 3-point range last season, already has offers from Alabama and Maryland.
► 12. Foster Wonders, 6-5, Sr., F, Iron Mountain: Wonders has the size and physical presence to bang inside and guard skills to take the ball to the basket or make the perimeter shot. He averaged 27.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and two blocks last season.
Wonders, who will play next year at Southern Illinois, could be a Mr. Basketball finalist.
► 13. Omar Zeigler, 6-5, Sr., G-F, Detroit King: Zeigler has developed into an outstanding all-around player to help King become a perennial PSL and state power throughout his career. He was a force at both ends of the court, averaging 17 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Zeigler, who has multiple offers, including Mississippi State and Mid-American Conference schools, could also be a Mr. Basketball candidate.
► 14. Sonny Wilson, 6-0, So., G, U-D Jesuit: Wilson had an outstanding freshman season, averaging team-highs in scoring (15.5), assists (6.4) and steals (1.6), also pulling down 4.7 rebounds while posting a 3-to-1 assists-to-turnover ratio.
► 15. Chansey Willis, 6-2, Jr., G, Detroit King: Willis is the premier point guard in the PSL and one of the best in the state. He averaged 19.5 points and seven assists while running the offense, also seriously missed when missing a month of the season due to a knee injury.
Willis has averaged 23 points to help King to a 3-0 start this season.
► 16. Basheer Jihad, 6-8, Sr., F, North Farmington: Big things are expected for Jihad who is now a third-year starter for Todd Negoshian. He averaged 11 points and seven rebounds last season while showing his ability to be a strong defender as well.
Jihad has multiple Division 1 mid-major offers, including Ball State.
► 17. Kareem Rozier, 5-9, Jr., G, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s: Rozier is the motor of St. Mary’s powerful team, showing his playmaking ability by running the offense as a pass first point guard. He averaged 11 points and nine assists to help St. Mary’s win its first Catholic League championship since 2008, along with an Operation Friendship win over PSL champion Detroit Cass Tech.
Rozier has multiple offers, and is getting interest from Michigan and Michigan State.
► 18. Owen Lobsinger, 6-8, Sr., F, Flint Powers: Lobsinger has the ability to play multiple positions with his strong ball-handling skills and his perimeter shooting. He averaged 13.2 points and nine rebounds last season, including a 20-point, 13-rebound effort in a win over Macomb Dakota where he made multiple 3-pointers.
Lobsinger, who received interest from multiple Big Ten teams, will play next year at Western Michigan.
► 19. Jack Karasinski, 6-7, Jr., F, Grand Rapids Catholic Central: Karasinski has developed into a player who can put up big numbers or help his team win games or by dishing out a high number of assists. He averaged 14 points, five rebounds and two assists last season to help Catholic Central to a 19-3 record, scoring 21 against River Rouge.
Karasinski has received multiple offers, including Western Michigan and Toledo.
► 20. Jason Drake, 6-2, Jr., G, Ferndale: Drake played a supporting role last season to help Orchard Lake St. Mary’s earn a Catholic League championship, averaging 12 points as a second or third option with Mr. Basketball finalist Lorne Bowman and Julian Roper leading the way.
Drake, who has an offer from Toledo, showed his potential with a 31-point effort in his final game with St. Mary’s in a one-sided Division 1 district semifinal win over Bloomfield Hills and scored 29 in a win over Bella Vista (Arizona) while playing for Michigan Elite in early January. He transferred to Ferndale in late January.
► 21. Javier Whitaker, 5-10, Sr., G, Hamtramck: Whitaker helped put Hamtramck on the map last season, averaging 17 points to help Hamtramck to a 17-3 record and in position to earn its first district title in 35 years when COVID-19 ended the season.
Whitaker was at his best in a district semifinal win over Grosse Pointe South, scoring 28 and making 8-of-16 3-pointers. He has multiple offers, including Detroit. He scored 40 in a season-opening win over Detroit Catholic Central this month, making another eight 3s.
► 22. Kyler Vanderjagt, 6-4, Jr., G, Grand Rapids Northview: Vanderjagt put himself on the radar last season by averaging 20.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists for Northview.
Vanderjagt has size at the guard position and can get things done by finishing off the dribble or by making the perimeter shot. He has drawn interest from Michigan and Michigan State.
► 23. Malik Olafioye, 6-2, So., G, Ecorse: Olafioye is one of the top sophomores in the state, showcasing outstanding ball-handling skills and quickness to be able to finish in transition or knocking down the 3-ball. He already has more than a dozen offers, including Houston, Georgetown and Boston College.
► 24. Keyon Menefield, 5-9, Sr., G, Flint Beecher: Menefield flourished at Beecher as the No. 3 option behind standout guard Jalen Terry and Earnest Sanders in past years, averaging 10.5 points, 4.5 assists and 3.2 steals as a sophomore and then 16.5 points, 6.7 assists and 5.4 steals last season.
Now, Menefield will be called on to be the leader while scoring more while still getting his teammates involved with his playmaking ability. He has multiple offers, including Cleveland State.
► 25. Cooper Craggs, 6-8, Jr., F, Detroit Catholic Central: Craggs, 6-8 and 230 pounds, can play inside or pop outside and knock down the perimeter shot, displayed in an early-season loss to Hamtramck when he had 22 points and 15 rebounds.
Craggs has an offer from Oakland and is receiving interest from several other schools.
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