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Ypsilanti Lincoln’s Emoni Bates dribbles against U-D Jesuit’s Daniel Friday during the first half of MHSAA Division 1 final at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Saturday, March 16, 2019.

The news wasn’t expected in the moment, but that in itself is no surprise, really. Because Emoni Bates isn’t like the others.

And we’ve known that for a while now, as the local hoops phenom became a national celebrity, his on-court exploits feeding his off-court profile. Bates, a wiry and intense competitor with rare skills, started turning heads as a middle-schooler, lit up the AAU circuit, led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a Division 1 state title as a freshman, landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated and became the first sophomore ever to earn Gatorade National Player of the Year honors this spring.

John Niyo is a sports writer for The Detroit News.

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