Emoni Bates enters the transfer portal after freshman season with Memphis basketball

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Emoni Bates will not be back at Memphis basketball for his sophomore season, Bates announced on Instagram on Saturday.

Surrounded by extreme amounts of hype coming out of high school, Bates struggled to create much of an impact during his short stay with the Tigers. He becomes the latest player to leave Penny Hardaway's team, joining Tyler Harris, Landers Nolley II, Earl Timberlake, John Camden and Sam Onu in the portal. Josh Minott declared for the NBA Draft and has indicated he does not plan to return to Memphis. Lester Quinones and DeAndre Williams are also testing the NBA Draft waters but have left open the possibility of returning to play for Hardaway next season.

“I’d like to thank Coach Penny, my teammates, and the entire coaching staff at the University of Memphis for giving me the opportunity to be a Tiger. Thank you Tiger Nation for embracing me and all of you who supported our team throughout this season. With that being said, I have decided to enter the transfer portal,” Bates posted on Inst.

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Bates signed with Memphis in August 2021 after reclassifying out of the 2022 class, where he was rated the No. 2 junior in the country. His addition to a group that already included Jalen Duren, Josh Minott, John Camden, Johnathan Lawson and Sam Onu helped coach Penny Hardaway secure his second No. 1 recruiting class in three years.

In 18 games (13 starts), Bates has averaged 9.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists. He came out of the gate strong, scoring a season-best 17 points in his debut against North Carolina Central in the Tigers' opener. After riding an impressive wave of production early, however, Bates struggled to adjust.

After scoring in double figures in five of his first seven games, Bates managed to do that just three times in his next 11. His troubles began when he scored seven points in a loss at Ole Miss in December, where he finished 1-of-10 from the field and 0 for 4 from three. Following two more off-outings (against Murray State and Alabama), a finger injury surfaced and it kept him out of action for three games.

Turnovers were also an issue for the 6-foot-9 wing. Before returning to the floor at the NCAA Tournament, Bates averaged 2.6 per game, committing at least one each time out this season and committing multiple in all but two games.

Late in the year, Bates left the team briefly to see a "specialist" for a back injury, according to his father, Elgin. The injury kept him off the floor from Jan. 27 until March 17, when he returned to play for the Tigers in the NCAA Tournament.

Bates was the 2020 National Gatorade Player of the Year after scoring 24.6 points per game as a junior at Ypsi Prep (Michigan). He earned preseason All-AAC honors as the league's coaches tabbed him for the second team.

Memphis has so far added one transfer this offseason, Georgia Southern guard Elijah McCadden, who was the Sun Belt's Sixth Man of the Year in 2021-22. The Tigers recently hosted AAC Player of the Year Kendric Davis on an official visit.

Reach sports writer Jason Munz at jason.munz@commercialappeal.com or on Twitter @munzly.

This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Memphis basketball: Emoni Bates enters transfer portal