Has Emoni Bates made himself totally undraftable for the Spurs?

Memphis v Gonzaga
Memphis v Gonzaga / Abbie Parr/GettyImages

The 2023 NBA Draft is projected to be one of the deepest draft classes in recent memory, headlined by French phenom Victor Wembanyama and G League Ignite prospect Scoot Henderson, both of whom the San Antonio Spurs would be happy with. Eastern Michigan University is usually a forgettable school when it comes to college hoops, with the exception of alum George Gervin.

This past summer, highly touted wing Emoni Bates transferred from Memphis to his hometown school, bringing the mid-major to contention. 

Will off court issues force the Spurs to pass on Bates?

As a five-star recruit coming out of high school, Bates reclassified from the graduating class of 2022 and joined the class of ‘21, sleighing Michigan State, where he committed. He would recommit to Memphis, with lofty expectations, but was benched due to a combination of injury and poor play.

As a 17-year-old college kid, there was a natural learning curve, so no one would hold the disappointing first season against him, aside from maybe Spartan fans who felt cheated out of the potential star. 

In two NCAA Tournament games, Bates combined for just 15 minutes and eight points. His poor shooting made him at best a non-factor, but again, there was a lot of development needed. 

By the time this summer started, Bates, who was initially a projected lottery pick, had slid all the way to the end of the first round

That slide was based just on his disappointing freshman campaign. On September 18th, Bates was charged with two felonies for illegal concealment and alteration of a firearm. Apparently, the weapon did not belong to him and he was unaware it was in the car he was driving. To be fair, this is his first brush with law enforcement. 

Per EMU’s student code of conduct, Bates will be and has been suspended from all team activities until these legal issues are resolved. His next court appearance is not until October 6th, and if he pleads or is found guilty, he will be kicked off the team.

A felony charge at 18 is nothing to sneeze at, but it has to be pondered: is it really his fault? His representatives are claiming the gun and car were not his, and he was unaware of the firearm’s presence. On top of that, is a non-violent crime enough to say that the NBA should pass on him entirely? With the pressure from his family, coaches, fans, and the media, can we really blame Bates for his lapse in judgment?

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Unfortunately, this could mean he will not play college ball next season and could miss out on being a first-round pick. The Spurs are surely looking at selecting a proven, low-risk player with their presumable lottery pick, so Bates will not be calling the Alamo City home, but will another team take a chance on him?