Why isn't Memphis star Emoni Bates NBA Draft eligible in 2022?

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Memphis freshman forward Emoni Bates is coming off one of the best performances of his young college career, finishing with 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists in a win over Cincinnati.

Bates and the Tigers have been up and down this season as they've won four out of five after dropping four straight. It's been a relatively quiet season for Bates, who is averaging 10.9 points while shooting 38.1 percent from the field.

NBA fans tuning in to catch Bates this season might be wondering why his name doesn't appear on any early mock drafts, but it has nothing to do with his numbers.

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Why isn't Memphis star Emoni Bates eligible for the 2022 NBA Draft?

Bates is as highly touted of a prospect as they come, ranked as the No. 2 player in the high school class of 2022 before electing to reclassify to the class of 2021. Even as a reclassified 17-year-old, Bates was still ranked as the No. 4 prospect in the class of 2021, receiving offers from all of the top programs in the country.

The 6-foot-9 forward originally committed to Michigan State to play under head coach Tom Izzo in June of 2020, but changed his mind, instead opting to attend Memphis to play under head coach Penny Hardaway.

This decision allowed Bates to team up with his AAU running mate and potential top-five pick in the 2022 NBA Draft in Jalen Duren, giving the Tigers one of the most talented duos in the country as they enter the season ranked No. 12 by the Associated Press.

Bates was voted as a Sporting News Preseason Second Team All-American and often draws comparisons to NBA superstar Kevin Durant because of his slender frame and ability to score the ball from anywhere on the floor.

He is undeniably one of the best prospects in the country but by the NBA's current rules, Bates will not be able to enter his name into the 2022 NBA Draft.

The NBA's draft eligibility rules state that all drafted players must be at least 19 years old within their draft calendar year, meaning, Bates would have to turn 19 in 2022 to be eligible for the 2022 NBA Draft.

With his birthday being Jan. 28, 2004, Bates is currently 17 years old and will only be 18 by the end of 2022.

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That means he will either have to play two seasons at Memphis and then enter the draft, or play one season at Memphis and take the following year off to train for the draft before becoming eligible in 2023.

While there have been talks in the past to lower the NBA's draft eligibility age to 18 , there has been no update on the progress of those conversations ahead of the 2022 NBA Draft.

Barring a rule change, Bates will have to wait until 2023 to hear his name called by NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

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