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  • Jeff BorzelloESPN Staff Writer

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    • Basketball recruiting insider.
    • Joined ESPN in 2014.
    • Graduate of University of Delaware.

Emoni Bates, considered one of the best high school prospects since LeBron James, won the Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year award on Tuesday, becoming the first sophomore to ever win the award.

Bates, a 6-foot-9 wing with a smooth offensive game and elite shooting ability, is ranked No. 1 in the ESPN 25 for the 2022 class. The Lincoln High (Ypsilanti, Michigan) sophomore is considered the best high school prospect in the country regardless of class.

Because he couldn’t receive the award in person, Bates was surprised with the honor via tweets from Jayson Tatum and Dwyane Wade.

Congrats, @BatesEmoni on winning the 2019-2020 @Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year award. That’s Big Time. Welcome to the Fam. #GatoradePOY #GatoradePartner

— Jayson Tatum (@jaytatum0) April 14, 2020

Congrts @BatesEmoni on winning the 2019-2020 @Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year award. Biggest award in high school sports 💪🏾 #GatoradePOY #GatoradePartner

— DWade (@DwyaneWade) April 14, 2020

Bates won Michigan’s Gatorade Player of the Year award as a freshman after leading Lincoln to its first state championship. He averaged 32.4 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.2 steals in 2018-19.

As a sophomore, Bates led Lincoln to a 19-3 record and a spot in the District 18 state tournament final against Ann Arbor Huron, which was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On the grassroots circuit, Bates played for the BATES Fundamentals program and averaged 32.2 points and 10.0 rebounds at last summer’s Nike Peach Jam.

Bates, who turned 16 in late January, had arguably the best game of his career on Feb. 18, when he finished with 63 points and 21 rebounds in a double-overtime win over Chelsea.

This is the 35th year Gatorade has given out the award, and Bates is the first player who will have the opportunity to win it three times. James, Greg Oden and Brandon Knight won it two times apiece, while other past winners include Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Alonzo Mourning and Ben Simmons.

James Wiseman won the award in 2018-19.

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