Emoni Bates enters transfer portal: Memphis guard to explore options after underwhelming freshman season

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After an underwhelming freshman season at Memphis, former five-star prospect Emoni Bates is entering the transfer portal, he announced Saturday on Instagram. Bates averaged 9.7 points and 3.3 rebounds per game on 38.6% shooting in 18 games for the Tigers after reclassifying to be part of the program’s heralded 2021 class.

“I’d like to thank Coach Penny, my teammates and the entire coaching staff at the University of Memphis for giving me the opportunity to be a Tiger,” Bates wrote. “Thank you Tiger Nation for embracing me and all of you who supported our team throughout this season.”

A rangy athlete, the 6-8 Bates was regarded for years as a generational talent in the 2022 class, but he struggled for much of his freshman season while adapting to college basketball before his 18th birthday on Jan. 28. Bates started 13 of the Tigers’ first 19 games before he was sidelined until the NCAA Tournament due to a lower back injury. He returned for Memphis’ two-game stay in the Big Dance and logged a total of 15 minutes in a win over Boise State and a loss to Gonzaga.

Though his first season of college basketball fell short of expectations, Bates should have plenty of suitors in the portal. He registered as the No. 5 overall prospect in the 2021 class, according to the 247Sports Composite, after reclassifying and did have some good moments with the Tigers. In his first three games, Bates averaged 16 points on 57.7% shooting and hit 9 of 18 shots from 3-point range.

But as the quality of Memphis’ opposition increased, Bates’ production decreased, and Memphis ultimately played its best basketball of the season after his injury.

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