A year after bringing LeBron James’ son to Dallas to play in the Thanksgiving Hoopfest, Glenn Smith has lined up an even bigger name for his national showcase event.
It’s Emoni Bates, the 6-9 phenom from Michigan who is considered one of the best high school recruits since LeBron James and has been compared to Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant.
Smith announced Thursday that Bates, the nation’s No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2022, will play for Ypsi Prep Academy against 2019 UIL Class 6A state champion Duncanville as part of a Thanksgiving Hoopfest doubleheader Nov. 28 at American Airlines Center. Bates appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated at the age of 15 last year, making him two years younger than James was when he first graced the SI cover in 2002 with the legendary headline “The Chosen One.”
The UIL isn’t allowing basketball teams to play in tournaments or showcase events this season because of the coronavirus pandemic. But the UIL will allow a maximum of four teams to play at one site, so Smith has received approval from the UIL to reduce his event from the format used last year — 30 games played at two sites — to two games played back-to-back on the home court of the Mavericks.
Smith, president and founder of the Thanksgiving Hoopfest, is planning to have Ypsi Prep Academy play Duncanville at 8 p.m. He is still working to finalize the teams that will play at 6 p.m., but expects it to be an elite matchup.
Bates, a five-star wing, committed to Michigan State on June 29. He was named the Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year last season, becoming the first sophomore to ever win the award, according to ESPN.
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Duncanville’s roster includes three-star point guard Zhuric Phelps, rated by 247Sports as the 10th-best player in Texas in the Class of 2021. Duncanville reached the state tournament last season, but never got to play because the event was first suspended and then canceled because of the pandemic.
Last year, the Thanksgiving Hoopfest was headlined by California powerhouse Sierra Canyon and its star-studded roster that included LeBron James Jr. (known as Bronny) and Zaire Wade, the son of 13-time NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade. The event also featured the nation’s No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2020, Oklahoma State signee Cade Cunningham from Florida’s Montverde Academy.
Four games in last year’s Thanksgiving Hoopfest — including the Sierra Canyon vs. Duncanvillegame — were moved from Duncanville High School to American Airlines Center after tickets for the final day of the two-day event sold out in 48 minutes. A press release promoting the 12th edition of the Hoopfest said that because of COVID-19, this year’s event will have “limited capacity” at AAC.