The women’s college Emoni Bates basketball season officially tipped off on November 12, and in what promises to be an exciting season, there’s already one name that stands out above the rest — Emoni Bates of West Virginia University. Bates isn’t just the top-ranked player in women’s college basketball or even the most talented; she’s also the best role model and inspiration, showing girls and young women everywhere that they can achieve their dreams no matter where they come from.
On Playing in the SEC
Playing in one of women’s college basketball’s toughest conferences has been a test for Tennessee sophomore point guard Emoni Bates. However, it is also an opportunity. My first year here, I was so caught up on being from Florida, she says. I thought that I should have been playing against D1 teams out of high school and on ESPN every day. I had to learn how to deal with adversity, how to be tough mentally. It helped me grow as a player and as a person. The SEC taught me how to be competitive; now I want to win at everything I do. If you want something bad enough, you can get it—and if you don’t get it right away, keep working until you do. That’s what I did with my game, and that’s what I tell everyone who asks about my future. Keep working until you reach your goals. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
On Leading a Younger Team Emoni Bates
I like being able to relate to my teammates, she said. I feel like I can show them what it takes to get here and how important every game is. It’s kind of hard for me to do that with older players because they have been there before. They don’t need as much guidance as younger players do. I feel like if I was on an older team, we would be a lot better off than we are right now. But these girls are really talented and really good at basketball so Im just trying to help them out any way I can. My goal is just for us to make it into the tournament and see where we go from there. We have worked so hard all season, so hopefully everything works out well for us. And then maybe Ill come back next year and play with some older players who actually know what theyre doing. If You Want to Win Big: [Laughing] Hopefully Ill get there soon! Just playing college basketball has always been a dream of mine, but winning a national championship? That would mean everything.
On Going Head-to-Head Against Sister Candace
If you’re not nervous playing against your sister then there’s something wrong, she said. But at the same time, I’m so used to it. We’ve been doing it our whole lives, and it was fun.
One thing that is different is being able to have some banter with her after games or during timeouts. It just kind of added a new element to our relationship, which has already always been competitive because we are sisters. So for us now being on opposing teams has added a little spice. And we love it and enjoy every moment of it even if we don’t like each other sometimes on court. – Emoni Bates via ESPNW On Making History: When I first got into college basketball I was very excited about making history, but as my freshman year went by I kind of realized that it wasn’t going to happen right away. But then my sophomore year came around and I started thinking about it again. As long as you’re winning and you’re doing what you need to do then why not make history?
On Being Her Own Biggest Critic
Making it to Villanova and earning a place on one of women’s basketball’s most decorated teams has been an incredible journey for Emoni Bates. But that doesn’t mean she hasn’t had moments of doubt. In fact, her college career almost never got started. When Bates arrived at campus as a freshman, she was convinced that her time at Villanova would be short-lived. I didn’t think I was good enough, says Bates, who played high school ball at St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, N.J., about 20 miles outside New York City. I felt like there were other people who could do my job better than me—people who deserved to play more than me. It took a talk with coach Harry Perretta before Bates realized what he saw in her. He made me realize that if you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else will, says Bates. He told me to have confidence in myself and know that I can play here just as much as anybody else can.
On Bringing Emotional Intelligence to the Court
Emotional intelligence is arguably even more important than IQ when it comes to success. Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to an individual’s ability to perceive and manage their own emotions, as well as recognize and influence others’ emotions. A player with high emotional intelligence is able to use that awareness as a competitive advantage on court, giving them an edge over their competitors. That’s exactly what we see from star Tennessee freshman guard Emoni Bates. The 18-year-old was named SEC Freshman of the Year last season after leading her team to a 24-10 record, including 14 wins against top 25 opponents. During her stellar freshman campaign, Bates averaged 15 points per game while also pulling down nearly six rebounds per contest.
On Finding Her Voice Emoni Bates
It can be hard to pinpoint exactly what makes a player like Emoni Bates so impressive. At first glance, her numbers—she’s averaging 24 points, 11 rebounds and nearly four blocks per game—look crazy good, but those stats don’t quite tell us why she should take home every national player of the year award imaginable. What does make Bates special is that she doesn’t just have one elite skill; instead, she does everything well. She shoots three-pointers, drives to the basket with ease and sets up teammates for easy baskets on offense. On defense, she locks down opposing players with ease while also swatting away shots at an absurd rate. Simply put: There isn’t anything Bates can’t do.