Ypsilanti Lincoln boys basketball coach Jesse Davis had high expectations for Emoni Bates heading into his highly anticipated freshman season.
With Bates, the top-ranked player in the 2022 class, scoring 32 points in his high school debut and finishing the season averaging 28.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per game for a state-champion Lincoln squad, “surprised” was the last adjective that came to Davis’ mind.
The 6-foot-9 Bates has been named The Associated Press Division 1 Player of the Year in a vote of sportswriters from across Michigan.
Bates, who also was named the Gatorade Michigan boys basketball Player of the Year, has already drawn comparisons to current NBA stars such as Kevin Durant. The hype is warranted, Davis said, because of the 15-year-old forward’s work ethic.
While most of his teammates were celebrating a district title after the Railsplitters’ 61-49 win over Saline last month, Bates went back to the Lincoln gym to work on his game after a rare off-night shooting, finishing 4 for 19 from the field.
The next game, Bates hit the game-winning triple in the final seconds of a 58-55 victory over Ann Arbor Skyline. He followed with a game-winning tip-in at the buzzer against Detroit Catholic Central in a regional championship.
“I have never had a player to do that,” Davis said. “He went right back to the gym. He also shoots more before a game than anyone I’ve seen. He is a different kind of kid.”
Davis, who was named Division 1 Coach of the Year, said he first knew Bates was a special talent when he was in the fifth grade.
“I was working with him on footwork stuff,” Davis said. “He was working on his jab step and was making shots, too. I’m like, ‘Man, this is the stuff I learned in college, and he is in the fifth grade.’
“I just knew he would be special because he caught on to it easy.”
With three years of high school basketball remaining, Bates is just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential, Davis said.
“I would say he is top three in the state for sure, if not the best,” Davis said. “Some of the players are a little more seasoned because they are older, but I wouldn’t call them better.
“He just needs to continue putting in the work, add to his game, try and be a little more versatile. I would like him to increase his assists a little bit more. I just want him to continue to develop. He is a great basketball player, but he can be a lot better than he is right now.”
Denton City Secretary Rosa Rios confirmed Friday afternoon that she finished her review of Jesse Davis’ application for the District 3 ballot and concluded it was complete.
Fellow District 3 candidate Diana Leggett challenged whether Davis had provided the city his home address, which is required of any candidate for an application to be valid.
In a news release, Leggett said she considers the matter resolved unless she receives new information to the contrary.
“I regret my challenge may have temporarily distracted voters in District 3 from other issues in this campaign,” Leggett wrote in the prepared statement. “However, I look forward, as I always have, to a robust debate among all candidates concerning the issues that are important to District 3 voters.”
Davis said he was focusing his campaign on ways to move the city forward together.
The Dolphins intend to add a starting right tackle, among other offensive linemen, in the next two months.
For Tuesday’s first practice, players confirmed that Zach Sterup lined up as the first-team right tackle opposite left tackle Laremy Tunsil, with Kilgore at center and Jesse Davis and former Jaguars player Chris Reed as the starting guards.
There are only four other offensive linemen currently on the roster: guards Isaac Asiata and Michael Dunn, second–year center Connor Hilland and tackle Joey Jones-Smith.
Dunn and Jones-Smith signed with Miami last week from the defunct Alliance of American Football.
Tunsil said the line naturally needs time to be put be together.
“It takes time, guys,” he said. ‘We’re just starting to rebuild. It’s only April.”
When Tunsil learned Ja’Wuan James had left for a four-year, $50 million contract with Denver, was his first reaction sadness about losing his friend and teammate or happiness for James?
“Both,” he said. “He got that bag [of money], yes he did.”
How does Miami replace him? “Damn good question,” Tunsil said. “Ask coach Flo about that one.”
On Flores, Tunsil said: “He’s a good dude. Great guy, came from a great program, the Patriots. He’s looking pretty good so far.”