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Nation’s top college recruit plays against Indians

By
KERRY HAMILTON SMITH

The Tecumseh High School gymnasium was buzzing on Friday, Feb. 1. Not since 1991 when the Indians took on Detroit Country Day and their future Michigan Fab Five and National Basketball Association star Chris Webber, had Indian fans seen a top college recruit in action. This time it was at home. This time the player’s name was Emoni Bates.

The 6’8” freshman — yes, freshman — is a complete player. He can slice inside for easy slam dunks and big rebounds, pull up for eight-foot jumpers, or hit an outside three with a smooth arcing shot.
On Friday night Bates led the Lincoln Railsplitters with 41 points and eight rebounds in a 94-35 victory over the Indians.

Bates, who said he has been playing basketball since he was three years old, has teams from around the country scouting him. “Too many to count,” he said, “Michigan, Michigan State, Kentucky, Florida State.” While he wasn’t spotted in Tecumseh, Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo attends many of Bates’ games when he doesn’t have a game of his own.

With almost 22,000 Instagram and 3,500 Twitter followers, including big name coaches, news outlets, and NBA players, Bates has a reputation for wowing fans who come to catch a glimpse of the young star.

When he has the chance, Bates plays hoops with LaBron James, Jr. He began playing AAU ball when he was 11 and played for Lincoln in seventh grade. Last year he decided not to play on the eighth grade team so he could concentrate on improving his game. “I just want to win,” he said. “I want to be a team player and improve every game.” Many people are speculating that Bates will leave Lincoln to join a prep team with players who have similar talent, but Bates didn’t mention departing.

His teammates Antone Swanson and Davion Harlin, both six-foot seniors, said it’s been fun playing with Bates this season. “It’s like a team effort; nobody’s selfish,” Harlin said. “We’ve got good chemistry,” Swanson said.

Tecumseh Coach Mike Ruhl agrees. “Lincoln was good three years ago when I started here,” he said, mentioning that the group of talented sophomores when he began coaching are now experienced seniors.

“I felt like the second quarter was our bright spot,” Ruhl said of Friday night’s game. The second half saw Lincoln take control of the game for good with a lot of easy transition baskets.

“This is four games in a row now when we’ve struggled to play hard for four quarters,” Ruhl said. “We need to bring strong effort and attitude daily if we are going to compete in this rugged conference.”

Tecumseh’s stat leaders for the game were Colin Brazil with nine points and three assists; Ryan Clary with eight points; JJ Arbini with seven points; Macguire Hawley with five points; Cormac Phelan with four points and three assists and Joe Kane with two points.

On Friday, Jan. 25, the Indians lost to Dexter, 63-30. The Dreadnaughts’ hot shooting and pressure defense made things tough on the Indians all night.

“It’s been several games since we’ve played hard and together for four quarters,” Ruhl said. “We’ve been getting down early and our effort and teamwork have been tough to come by. We have to be tough enough to get through this rut we’re in. We play tough teams and have no choice but to fight through this together.”

Stat leaders were Michael Rine with 12 points and six rebounds; Arbini with seven points and four rebounds; Clary with five points; Phelan with four points; and Brazil with two points.

On Tuesday, Feb. 5, the Tribe fought back from a 17-2 early disadvantage with a big run of its own. However, Jackson used a huge final two minutes of the first half to build a 55-27 halftime lead. The final score ended up 87-44. With the loss, Tecumseh falls to 1-13 overall and 0-10 in the Southeastern Conference White Division.

Scoring for Tecumseh were Clary with 15 points, Phelan with 11 points, Rine with eight points, Kane with five points, Hawley with three points, and Arbini with two points.

Tecumseh has seven games remaining on the schedule, which has changed due to inclement weather. The Indians travel to Pinckney on February 8, and have five back-to-back home games.
 

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