Men’s Basketball signs quartet to National Letters of Intent –

Pronunciation Help:

Tamar Bates                tuh-MAR

Emarion Ellis               eh-MAR-ee-ON

Keeyan Itejere             KEY-uhn     eh-TEEZ-your-ray

AUSTIN, Texas — A quartet of high school basketball standouts have signed National Letters of Intent to play basketball next season at The University of Texas, head coach Shaka Smart announced Wednesday. Tamar Bates (Kansas City, Kan.), Emarion Ellis (Davenport, Iowa), Keeyan Itejere (Raleigh, N.C.) and David Joplin (Brookfield, Wis.) will join the Longhorns for the 2021-22 season.

The four-man class is currently No. 16 nationally in the Rivals team rankings.


“We’re very excited about the four young men who have chosen to join our Longhorn Basketball family,” Smart said. “First off, all four share a high degree of receptivity that will allow them to take advantage of coaching and progress quickly at the college level. They each bring distinct elements and a variety of talents to our program. All four possess tremendous character, come from a strong family background and fit very well with who we are.”

Bates (6-5, 180), a guard from Kansas City, Kan. who is playing his senior year at IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) under coach Sean McAloon, is ranked as the No. 69 prospect in the nation by Rivals. In his junior season at Kansas City’s Piper High School, Bates averaged 22.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.0 steals per game while leading Piper to a 21-1 mark and a spot in the Class 4A state championship game. The championship game was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He converted 58-percent from the floor, including a 44-percent mark from three-point range, and 88-percent from the free throw line in his junior season.

“Tamar is a tremendous competitor with a versatile skill set on both ends of the floor,” Smart said. “He brings incredible spirit and energy to the court which will allow him to make a smooth and immediate transition.”

Ellis (6-5, 175), a guard from Assumption High School (Davenport, Iowa) who plays under coach Matt Fitzpatrick, is ranked as the No. 95 prospect in the nation by Rivals. As a junior at Davenport Central High School, Ellis averaged 17.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.3 steals per game.

“Emarion is a very unique player with tremendous upside,” Smart said. “His combination of size, length and play-making ability will allow him to be very effective in our system.”

Itejere (6-9, 190), a forward from GRACE Christian School (Raleigh, N.C.) who plays under coach DeShannon Morris, is a three-star prospect by Rivals and 247Sports composite. Itejere averaged 9.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game as a junior while helping GRACE Christian to a 21-12 record and the second round of the Class 3A state tournament.

“Keeyan is a terrific mover for a player of his size,” Smart said. “His ability to sprint the floor, finish above the rim, block shots and defend players at various positions make him a very unique prospect.”

Joplin (6-7, 215), a forward from Central High School (Brookfield, Wis.) who plays under coach Dan Wandrey, is ranked as the No. 97 prospect in the nation by Rivals. Joplin averaged 23.0 points, 10.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game and hit 38.5-percent from three-point range as a junior while earning all-state honors. Central posted a 24-1 mark and qualified for the state sectional final before the season was canceled due to the pandemic. As a sophomore in 2018-19, Joplin averaged 17 points per game while helping Central to a 23-5 mark and the program’s first Division I state championship.

“David is wired to score,” Smart said. “His combination of size, shooting touch and basketball feel make him a versatile offensive piece who we can play at a variety of positions.”

2021-22 Texas Basketball Recruiting Class (as of November 11, 2020)






Hometown (High School)

Tamar Bates





Kansas City, Kan. (IMG Academy [Fla.])

Emarion Ellis





Davenport, Iowa (Assumption)

Keeyan Itejere





Knightdale, N.C. (GRACE Christian School)

David Joplin





Brookfield, Wis. (Central)

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