Eastern Michigan sophomore wing Emoni Bates, a former five-star prospect who was once ranked as the No. 1 player in the 2022 recruiting class and widely considered one of the best high school players in the world, confirmed Monday via Instagram that he has officially declared for the 2023 NBA Draft. Bates' announcement came mere hours after the NBA's early entry deadline for underclassmen to enter the NBA Draft passed on Sunday at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Bates starred at EMU last season leading his hometown Eagles of Ypsilanti, Michigan, in both scoring and rebounding while earning All-MAAC honors. He made 29 starts in 30 games and averaged 19.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game for EMU, which finished 8-23 on the season and next-to-last in the regular-season conference race.

Bates was long ranked as the No. 1 player in the 2022 recruiting class and viewed as a generational talent who drew comparisons over the years to LeBron James and Kevin Durant for his long frame and smooth scoring ability. In 2021, he reclassified to the 2021 class and joined the Memphis program for what turned out to be a one-and-done season. In his lone season with the Tigers he struggled to live up to expectations as a possible lottery pick, averaging 9.7 points and 3.3 rebounds per game while battling injury throughout the back half of the season.  

Before his breakout sophomore season at EMU, Bates off the court also faced legal troubles, as he was hit with felony gun charges for allegedly carrying a concealed weapon and altering ID marks on a weapon. Those charges could be eventually expunged after he pled guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge and was sentenced to 18 months of probation.

It's unlikely Bates will generate the same interest during the 2023 NBA Draft process that he would have generated had he been eligible several years ago, but his entry does create an interesting wrinkle in a class that lacks star power outside the top of the class. Given his 6-foot-9 frame, shot-making ability and perceived long-term potential, he could attract attention from teams in the late first round or in the second round, though he is not ranked in the latest Top 50 Big Board