Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

Joe Rondone/USA TODAY NETWORK
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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.

Star guard Paige Bueckers plans to play for UConn in 2023-24

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STORRS, Conn. – Paige Bueckers intends to play basketball in the 2023-24 season for Connecticut after recovering from an ACL injury that’s sidelined her this season.

Speaking on campus for the first time since being hurt, Bueckers was adamant in saying she will not enter the 2023 WNBA Draft and will return to play college ball.

“I’m not leaving. That is not in question,” the 21-year-old Bueckers said Thursday during a media availability. “People asked me, `What are you thinking about, fifth year, COVID year, redshirt this year?’ I’m not thinking too far ahead about that at all. But I will be playing college basketball again.”

Bueckers had an injury-marred 2021-22 season. She missed most of the season with tibial plateau fracture and lateral meniscus tear in her left knee. The Minnesota native returned for the NCAA tournament last spring and helped UConn to the title game, which it lost to No 1 South Carolina. In 17 games last season, Bueckers averaged 14.6 points.

Bueckers is expected to miss the upcoming season after she injured the same knee in a pickup game in early August. The national player of the year as a freshman had surgery four days later.

“I was going full speed and I sort of tried to come to a stop and there was some contact, not a lot of contact, but it just kind of gave out,” Bueckers said. “I knew it was bad. I felt a pop. And then I went to the training room and I was extremely frustrated. I didn’t know how serious it was, but I knew something was wrong.”

Baylor, Gonzaga players to get paid for promoting rematch

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Baylor and Gonzaga will meet in a men’s basketball game in South Dakota on Dec. 2 and organizers will pay players on both teams who agree to help promote the game.

Complete Sports Management and Range Sports announced this week that it would put on the game at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls.

Baylor and Gonzaga will meet for the seventh time, and first since the Bears beat the Bulldogs in the 2021 national championship game.

The game is an opportunity for players to cash in on their celebrity under name, image and likeness (NIL) rules. Matt Haberman, a spokesman for the organizers, said players would be paid for participating in “tune-in to the game” promotions on the network that televises the game.

Haberman said he couldn’t disclose the amount of payment each player would receive. Organizers were still seeking a television partner Thursday.

“We’re working to find a media partner who believes in providing this generation of student-athletes more opportunities as well as align with iconic powerhouse basketball brands Baylor and Gonzaga,” Range Sports president Will Funk said. “Engaging the players to help activate the game broadcast sponsors is the future of college athletics.”

Emoni Bates officially transfers to Eastern Michigan

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YPSILANTI, Mich. — Emoni Bates has officially transferred to Eastern Michigan.

The school announced that the 6-foot-9 guard will play for his hometown Eagles this season, nearly two months after Bates shared his plans on social media.

“I love my city and coming home to do something special was big for me,” Bates said. “I’ve known several of the guys on the team from playing together and competing. Having a strong relationship and bond with my teammates and coaching staff was important to me.”

He averaged 9.7 points and 3.3 rebounds per game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

Bates became the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA Draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

Bates announced in April that he was leaving the school and later said he would decide among Michigan, Arkansas, Seton Hall, DePaul, Louisville and Eastern Michigan.

In 2019 as a freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

Eastern Michigan was 10-21 overall and 5-15 in the Mid-American Conference last season and has not appeared in the NCAA Tournament since 1998.

Eagles coach Stan Heath is entering his second season at the school. He is a former Izzo assistant and was head coach at Kent State, which he led to the round of eight in the 2002 NCAA Tournament, Arkansas and South Florida.

“I realize what a special moment this is by having a No. 1-ranked player in the country in Emoni Bates join our program,” Heath said. “He is an NBA talent and we are committed to winning and helping him and his teammates reach their dreams.”