Memphis can officially be considered a Final Four contender.
The Tigers added No. 3-ranked 2021 prospect Emoni Bates on Wednesday. Bates, who was originally committed to Michigan State, announced he was reclassifying into the 2021 class earlier this month. He cut his list of potential suitors to Michigan State, Oregon, Memphis and the G League.
Bates was the top-ranked prospect in the 2022 class for several years, but a mediocre junior season at Ypsi Prep led to a slight drop. He had a solid spring with the Team Final grassroots program and then averaged 20.0 points in nine games on the Nike EYBL circuit last month.
Memphis also brings in potential lottery pick Jalen Duren, who played with Bates in the spring. Duren committed to the Tigers earlier this month.
“Duren and Bates could be one of the most lethal combinations in college basketball this season,” ESPN national recruiting director Paul Biancardi said.
The Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas took a $2,000 wager on Memphis to win the title on Aug. 6. The bettor got 80/1 odds and would return $162,000 if the Tigers cut down the nets next April.
Head coach Penny Hardaway returns Landers Nolley II, DeAndre Williams and Lester Quinones from last season. The Tigers were on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble, but they beat Mississippi State in the NIT title game.
They also added Earl Timberlake (Miami), Tyler Harris (Iowa State) and Chandler Lawson (Oregon) following the 2020-21 season. Memphis has jumped from outside the top 25 into the top 10 in most updated rankings.
Offshore sportsbook BetOnline went one step further, moving the Tigers to the second-favorite to win the 2022 NCAA Tournament. Gonzaga remains the +700 ‘chalk,’ but Memphis is tied with Michigan for the second-shortest odds (+900).
Kentucky, Texas and UCLA are all priced at 14/1, while Purdue is 16/1. Duke, Illinois, Kansas and Villanova have 18/1 odds.
Other sportsbooks have not made quite as much of an adjustment. The SuperBook shifted Memphis from 80/1 to 25/1. Bettors can also grab the Tigers at 21/1 at Circa Sports.
Bates will be too young to enter the 2022 NBA draft, so he could play college basketball for two years or play elsewhere professionally following this season.