THE NEXT ONE? 13-year-old hoops phenom invites AP on journey

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) The best 13-year-old basketball player in America wears braces and is already tall enough to play shooting guard in the NBA.

Emoni Bates was born a little long and light, and still struggles to pack muscle onto his 6-foot-7, 155-pound frame. He dribbles like a point guard and effortlessly makes 3-pointers.

Emoni’s father, E.J. Bates, coaches his son to keep away from the hustlers representing prep and private schools, shoe companies and agents.

The Bates family has agreed to provide The Associated Press with a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the life of one of the most coveted basketball prospects in the country for at least the next five years. The periodic series will include video, photos, audio and text updates to track his progress.

Some hardcore hoops followers know about Emoni’s skills thanks to a highlight reel that’s already had nearly 1 million views on YouTube.

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