Eastern Michigan University basketball player Emoni James-Wayne Bates, a top basketball recruit, is facing gun charges after he was arrested during a traffic stop Sunday night in Washtenaw County.
Bates, 18, faces two felony charges in Washtenaw County’s 14A-1 District Court, online court records show.
One charge is for carrying a concealed weapon. The other is for altering identification marks on a weapon or firearm. Both were requested by the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department.
Sheriff’s deputies stopped a vehicle in Superior Township at 10:43 p.m. Sunday after the driver failed to stop at the intersection of Nottingham and Clark roads, department Director of Community Engagement Derrick Jackson said in response to a question about Bates’ arrest.
“During the investigation a firearm was discovered, and the 18-year-old driver was taken into custody,” Jackson said in a statement.
Bates, an Ypsilanti native, was driving someone else’s car when he was pulled over Sunday, his attorney Steven Haney said.
“That’s why I hope people can allow him the presumption of innocence and reserve judgment as facts become known,” Haney said. “This was not his car, first and foremost.”
Bates cooperated during the traffic stop and arrest, Haney said.
Haney said he does not know who owns the gun or the car. He is waiting on discovery materials from the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office.
“It’s still early in the process,” Haney said. “Like any other citizen, he is entitled to a presumption of innocence.”
Haney entered a not guilty plea on Bates’ behalf during his arraignment Monday afternoon that lasted about six minutes.
“Mr. Bates, Emoni, has been a lifelong resident of the community,” Haney said during the court hearing. “He’s currently a full-time student at Eastern Michigan University. This is his first brush with the law. He has no prior criminal history at all.”
Magistrate Elisha Fink allowed Bates to be released from Washtenaw County jail on a personal recognizance bond. She said weapons charges are “inherently dangerous” but that Bates is a good candidate for a personal bond, which does not require him to pay to leave jail.
Bates is scheduled to return to court for a probable cause conference Oct. 6.
Eastern Michigan University Athletic Director Scott Wetherbee didn’t confirm the changes against Bates but confirmed “a situation involving one of our student athletes.”
“Eastern Michigan takes all allegations very seriously,” Wetherbee said in a statement to The Detroit News. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”
In late August, Bates committed to playing for Eastern Michigan for the upcoming season. He has used one season of collegiate eligibility, at Memphis.
“I love my city,” Bates said in a statement in August. “And coming home to do something special was big for me. 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. I’ve been working really hard over the years, especially this summer, against great competition to continue to get better.”
At Ypsi Prep Academy, Bates averaged 24.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists. He started his prep career at Ypsilanti Lincoln, leading the team to a state title as a freshman. He was the Gatorade national player of the year in 2020, averaging 32.4 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals.
In one game, he poured in 63 points and had 21 rebounds. In 2019, he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, under the headline, “Born For This,” with the tagline, “Magic, Michael, LeBron … And the 15-Year-Old Who’s Next in Line.”
In high school, he originally committed to Michigan State before changing his mind. He chose to play at Memphis rather than jump into the NBA’s G-League. He reclassified from the Class of 2022 to 2021.
At Memphis, Bates battled back injuries, which limited his playing time for much of the season before the NCAA Tournament. He averaged 9.7 points and 3.3 rebounds for Memphis. He missed the final nine regular-season games.