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Eastern Michigan University standout basketball player Emoni Bates was charged with two felonies on Monday following a traffic stop where an officer found a gun in a car, and was subsequently suspended by EMU.
Bates was pulled over after not stopping at an intersection, and a search of the vehicle found a weapon, Washtenaw County (Mich.) sheriff’s office spokesman Derrick Jackson said via the Associated Press.
Bates’ attorney, Steve Haney, says the vehicle and gun didn’t belong to his client.
“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” he said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun.
“This is his first brush with the law. He poses no threat or risk to society.”
Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. Haney entered a not guilty plea, which allowed Bates to be released with his next hearing at court on Oct. 6.
“We are aware of a situation involving men’s basketball student-athlete Emoni Bates,” Athletic Director Scott Wetherbee said in a statement Monday via The Detroit News. “Eastern Michigan University takes all allegations of this nature very seriously. Per department policy, he has been suspended automatically from practice and playing privileges until the legal process is resolved. Because this is an on-going legal matter, the University will have no further comment at this time.”
A former basketball prodigy during his high school days, the 18-year-old Bates initially went to Memphis to play with head coach and ex-NBA star Penny Hardaway before transferring this year to his hometown Eastern Michigan squad in Ypsilanti.
Bates graced the cover of Sports Illustrated with the title “Born For This,” as the publication deemed him the next potential LeBron James or Magic Johnson at just 15 years old.
Bates beat out NBA players Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley – Cunningham was the first overall pick by the Detroit Pistons in 2021 and Mobley went to the Cleveland Cavaliers two picks later – for the Gatorade National Player of the Year in 2020, becoming the first sophomore to ever be given the award.
But he hasn’t made much noise since then. He committed to Michigan State before de-committing and joining Hardaway in Memphis last season. A back injury would leave him sidelined during his freshman season last year, though he played in a couple NCAA tournament games.
Against Gonzaga in the second round, Bates shot 2-for-7 for five points, and one rebound in 12 minutes of play. He hit one three in the team’s win over Boise State in the first round.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.