Though second-round rookie wing Emoni Bates was scooped up by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 49 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, he recently admitted that he had a desire to become a member of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Following the Cavs’ 100-77 Summer League win over the Grizz on July 10, a contest in which he scored 21 points on 63.6 percent shooting from the floor and 62.5 percent shooting from deep, the former Eastern Michigan standout reflected on his draft journey and acknowledged that his relationship with superstar guard Ja Morant “definitely” made him interested in starting his professional career in Grind City.
“He check in with me every here and there,” Bates said, as transcribed by USA Today. “That’s big bro. He always check in with me. I’m pretty sure he’s going to text me when I get to the hotel. I try to talk to him as much as I can.”
Prior to his 2022-23 campaign with the Eagles, Bates was a consensus five-star recruit who, upon coming out of high school, committed to play for the Memphis Tigers. It was there that he first developed a bond with the Grizzlies guard, and it remained intact upon his transfer to Eastern Michigan following his freshman campaign.
He would finish his final season at the collegiate level boasting impressive averages of 19.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game while earning Third-team All-MAC honors as a result of his efforts.
Instead of nabbing the 19-year-old in the draft, Memphis opted to go for more big man help by selecting South Carolina product GG Jackson at 45 overall. Jackson is a player Bates revealed he has a close bond with and even referred to him as “my dog for sure.”
Despite not joining forces with Ja Morant in the pros, Emoni Bates is still outwardly elated to be in the NBA and serving as a member of the Cavaliers, wrapping up his comments on the matter by stating it’s all “a dream come true.”