EMU’s Emoni Bates shooting impressive at NBA combine

Detroit News

Chicago — With the conference finals set to tip off on Tuesday, the rest of the NBA world gathered in Chicago on Monday afternoon to watch the next generation of prospects who are hoping to hear their name called on draft night.

The sound of basketballs bouncing on the hardwood, sneakers squeaking and coaching direction filled Wintrust Arena as Day 1 of the NBA Draft Combine got underway. Team executives, scouts and media members filled the stands to evaluate players they typically only see on film.

The first day of the combine consisted of various player testing modules, which included strength-and-agility, shooting drills and half-court basketball drills.

None of the presumptive top three draft prospects — Victor Wembanyama, Scoot Henderson or Brandon Miller — participated, but there were a few local names along with a few players the Pistons could consider drafting, should they drop to the No. 5 overall pick in the draft lottery.

Players were split into six different groups and alternated their workouts at different stations, which included the maximum vertical jump, the pro lane drill and the 3/4-court sprint before concluding with four-on-four drills.

Michigan guard Kobe Bufkin and Eastern Michigan forward Emoni Bates represented the local attendees, while other projected lottery picks, including Villanova forward Cam Whitmore and Houston forward Jarace Walker were on display as two players who fit the Pistons’ needs at the wing position.

Bufkin, who elected to leave Michigan after his sophomore season, showed off his athleticism in the maximum vertical leap (players receive a running start) with a jump of 38.5 inches. That mark ranked ninth among all participants in his pod group. Whitmore, who’s known for his explosiveness, had a maximum vertical leap of 40.5.

Bates shined in the combine’s various shooting drills. He tied Seth Lundy for first in the shooting-off-the-dribble drill after he went 25-of-30 (83.3%) from the field. He finished second in the 3-point star drill behind Marcus Sasser after his 19-of-25 (76%) shooting from beyond the arc. He tied eight other players for first in the free-throw shooting drill after going 10-of-10 from the stripe.

Despite being listed among the initial group of 78 participants, Michigan guard Jett Howard did not participate on Monday.

The combine will continue on Wednesday and Thursday, when the prospects will participate in five-on-five scrimmages and media availabilities. Those evaluations will carry a little more weight, since the 14 lottery teams will know their official draft positioning.

mcurtis@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @MikeACurtis2

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