Tyler J. Davis
| Detroit Free Press
Michigan State commit Emoni Bates is almost eligible to reclassify
Ypsi Prep Academy’s Emoni Bates talks after practice at Dickies Arena in Ft. Worth, Texas on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. Ypsi Prep was there to play in The Battle Basketball Showcase.
Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press
Ypsi Prep, coming off a win over ISA (Ohio), is traveling to Vandalia, Ohio, for the Flyin’ to the Hoop Top Gun Showcase — a three-day basketball invitational featuring nine teams across the country.
Bates, a five-star Michigan State basketball commit, and the Ball Boys will play twice in the showcase: Sunday vs. Dohn Prep (Ohio) and Monday vs. AZ Compass Prep (Arizona). AZ Compass Prep, ranked No. 2 in the nation by CBS, rosters two five-star prospects and two more four-star prospects.
About 600 tickets will be sold, per state health guidelines, for each two-game session (two pairs of games Sunday, one pair Monday) at Vandalia Butler High School. The gym, near Dayton, Ohio, seats about 4,100 at full capacity, said Eric Horstman, founder of Flyin’ to the Hoop events.
Horstman said this is the first year for the Top Gun Showcase and it will be held annually, much like his larger Flyin’ to the Hoop event. The 2021 Flyin’ to the Hoop, the 18th in the series, in January was canceled because of COVID-19 protocols, but will continue as scheduled next year. Past editions have featured dozens of NBA players and multiple future No. 1 picks, including Anthony Davis and Deandre Ayton, Horstman said.
Bates, who many analysts believe is the best amateur prospect in the country regardless of class, could be next on that list.
“A lot of these other top matchups are playing each other quite a bit because they’re in the same area, like an IMG (Academy) vs. a Monteverde or something like that because they’re both in Florida, ” Horstman said. “These two would never play each other unless it was maybe at the GEICO Nationals at the end of the year … so this is an opportunity to see two totally different geographical areas go at it.”
Horstman said this weekend’s showcase is the first time he has been able to have a Michigan team play in his eastern Ohio events. In the past, he has tried to have top Detroit metro teams make the three-hour drive south, but MHSAA rules prevent teams from competing.
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Ypsi Prep, which competes outside of MHSAA jurisdiction, is coming off a win vs. International Sports Academy (Ohio). Ypsi Prep beat ISA, 87-70, Feb. 26 as Bates dropped 36 points and 10 rebounds. Javaughn Hannah, a four-star guard with growing Power Five interest, added 14 points and six rebounds, and Dillon Hunter, a four-star Baylor commit, and Jamal Sumlin, who holds mid-major offers, chipped in nine points apiece.
Here’s a look at Ypsi’s next couple of contests during Flyin’ to the Hoop, which you can watch live (for a fee) at thesuvtv.com/flyintothehoop:
Ypsi Prep vs. Dohn
Ypsi Prep’s first game in the showcase is a 7:45 p.m. nightcap to Sunday’s slate of games vs. Dohn Prep, an athletics-focused offshoot of the Dohn Community School District in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The relatively young program, geared toward getting teens ready for NCAA competition, served postgrad high school students the past four years, but for the first time this season, admitted preps.
The Panthers are led by Curtis Harrison IV and Michael Jefferson — two wings with the length to potentially bother the 6-foot-9 Bates. Jefferson, a 6-6 senior, is a three-star recruit with offers from Bowling Green, Butler and Oklahoma State. Harrison, a 6-7 senior, is signed to play with Miami of Ohio.
Ypsi Prep vs. AZ Compass Prep
Horstman said arguably the biggest game of the weekend, and one of the biggest of the high school season, will be Monday’s 7:45 p.m. finale: Ypsi Prep vs. AZ Compass Prep.
“Personally, to date, this will be (Ypsi Prep’s) toughest game of the year, bar none,” Horstman said. “Arizona Compass Prep is loaded. They play awesome as a team. Talent-wise they’ll match Ypsi Prep, you know, player for player.”
Compass Prep, known as the Dragons, is led by two five-star top-50 seniors as well as two four-star prospects and two three-star prospects, among others.
Tyty Washington, a five-star point guard, drew offers from across the Power Five conferences, including a few Big Ten schools. He’s headed to Creighton after emerging as one of the best pure point guards in the country this season.
“TyTy Washington, a lot of people that I know say he should … have been a McDonald’s All American,” Horstman said. “Right now, he is playing lights out. He’s the complete floor general.”
Sadraque Nganga, a five-star forward, stands 6-9 but can drive the ball. Kentucky, Maryland, UCLA, Kansas and Alabama are among the Power Five programs tracking him. DaRon Holmes (a four-star forward committed to Dayton) is another player to watch.
It’ll be interesting to see how the 6-3 Washington deals with Hunter, a lengthy 6-4 perimeter defender, and Sumlin, a stout 6-1 guard with quick feet and a relentless motor. Nganga may be tasked with guarding Bates, as will Holmes, which will provide Bates with high-quality competition.
After leaving, Flyin’ to the Hoop, Ypsi Prep will play Cincinnati Woodward (Ohio) at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday before a home game vs. Spire Academy. The Ball Boys won the teams’ meeting in January without Bates.
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