Illini targeting former 5-star in the transfer portal

Illini targeting former 5-star in the transfer portal

Thought Illinois basketball was done with the transfer portal this offseason?

Think again. The Illini are still pursuing top transfers in the portal and continue adding names to the list by the week. I believe Illinois has 11 scholarships accounted for right now with two scholarships left to fill for the upcoming season. One of the most recent transfers to keep an eye on is Emoni Bates.

Yes, that Emoni Bates. The one who was touted as the next great thing in the basketball world. He has entered the transfer portal after one season with the Memphis Tigers.

According to Joe Tipton of On3.com, since Bates has entered the transfer portal, a number of teams have contacted him, and Illinois is one of the teams that is showing interest in the former high school great.

Coming out of Ypsi Prep Academy, Bates was looked at as one of the best players in the nation. He was rated as a five-star recruit and ranked as the No. 5 player in the class of 2021. Every team obviously wanted him, but Penny Hardaway and the Tigers ended up landing the talented forward.

In the lone season with Memphis, Bates put up okay numbers. He had a lot of talent to compete with but still managed to average 9.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game. His shooting numbers weren’t great, though, as he shot 38.6% from the field, 32.9% from three-point range, and 64.6% from the free throw line.

Illinois basketball would be getting an athletic freak in Emoni Bates.

Bates has been a superstar for quite some time now. He has been able to rely on his athletic ability for his entire high school career, but at each level, that athletic ability will only take you so far.

I believe Brad Underwood and the Illinois coaching staff can help take Bates’ game and develop him into a great defender of the basketball. He already has the length, but when you get Chester Frazier helping Bates on the defensive end of the court, he is going to blossom into an All-American immediately.

On the shooting side of things, I am not too worried about Bates. He was never a great three-point shooter, but that can develop with time. His free throw shooting was around 80% in high school, so 64.6% as a freshman is probably a fluke. Illinois would have enough shooters around Bates to the point he wouldn’t have to be out on the three-point arc with the ball. He would be more of a slasher and unstoppable at the rim.

Just off the top of my head, the Illinois starting lineup in 2022-23 with Bates would be insane. I have No. 1 Skyy Clark, No. 2 Luke Goode, No. 3 RJ Melendez, No. 4 Bates, and No. 5 Coleman Hawkins. That is a starting lineup I could see taking the Orange and Blue to the national title. Please, basketball Gods, let this happen.

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