Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Jarnell Stokes is headed to Tennessee and could help turn around the Volunteers sooner than many expected.
The 6-foot-8 Stokes is the Rivals No. 5 power forward in the Class of 2012. On Thursday he chose the Volunteers over Kentucky, Memphis, Florida and Arkansas.
“I have spent a lot of time in prayer about what to do and I believe that the University of Tennessee is the right place for me,” Stokes said, according to ESPN.com. “I am excited about the future at Tennessee. I am going to work as hard as I can to fit in with my teammates and learn the system as quickly as I can to help the team.”
Stokes was ruled ineligible after transferring from Memphis Central High School to Southwind, but was able to graduate and will enroll at Tennessee for the second semester. He is a huge addition for new coach Cuonzo Martin, who took over in the wake of the Bruce Pearl recruiting violations scandal.
Still, it remains to be seen what kind of impact he can make by jumping into the SEC for the beginning of conference play.
“I think Jarnell is an impact recruit, no question,” a source close to the Stokes recruitment who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for the family told SNY.tv.
“It definitely gives Tennessee a marquee recruit. He’s a good kid and a good person. How much he helps them this year I think it remains to be seen. It will be difficult to never have practiced in a Division 1 practice and then jump into conference play. For any player that would be very difficult.
“Jarnell’s a really good player, that’s gonna be a really hard deal for him”
Still, the source conceded it was a huge get for Tennessee to land a player from the city of Memphis, especially considering the competition.
“It’s big,” the source said. “He’s a Top 20 player in the country and he’s from Memphis. That’s a big statement for them to get. He visited a lot of high-profile schools before he made his decision.
“He’s a marquee recruit and he’s a kid that a lot of people wanted. It’s a big statement to get a player of that caliber out of the city of Memphis, which has been a hard place for Tennessee to recruit.”
Said Stokes: “We walk by faith not sight. I am fortunate that that I have great people surrounding me. All the adversity that I have been through has made me a better person.”
Photo: Commercial Appeal
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.