Word on the street is that Jarnell Stokes will be a Vol

I live in Arkansas and I know that on Little Rock’s top radio station for sports, 103.7 the buzz, the constant question is about who Jarnell Stokes will be signing with tonight. My friends in Memphis tell me that the Memphis Tigers do not have a scholarship this year for Stokes but Arkansas and Tennessee do.

It is also true that Stokes could immediately play for both Arkansas and Tennessee and both of those teams need a lot of help inside. I have also heard that the word on the street in Memphis is that Stokes will sign with Tennessee. Below you can read this article from Knoxville that points out that Stokes was wearing orange yesterday at a store in Memphis according to one of the comments below the article.

Could Stokes be Vols’ cornerstone?

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Go ahead recruiting fans, allow yourself to wonder, for one day at least, if the Jarnell Stokes-to-Tennessee rumors could be true.

Let’s face it, UT basketball recruiting talk has primarily centered around Stokes the past two years.

Plenty of names have come and gone, but the conversation usually begins and ends with Stokes, the big transformer out of Memphis.

On Thursday, the talk will climax. Stokes, ranked No. 11 in the nation by Rivals.com, is announcing which school he will choose at Fino Villa in Collierville at 6:30 p.m.

Adding more fuel to the fire, Stokes has graduated from high school and will be eligible to play THIS SEASON once he’s attending classes and is approved by the NCAA Clearinghouse.

At one time, prior to the Vols running into NCAA issues, it was a widely held perception that the hulking 6-foot-8, 255-pound Stokes would wind up in orange.

He was that good that early, and UT was dutifully on top of his recruitment. Relationships were built, the future was discussed and games were attended.

But then the Bruce Pearl whirlwind hit, and the Vols’ coaches were taken off the recruiting road.

ESPN had a field day filled with barbecue-themed time lines throughout last season and Stokes, along with other top-flight recruits, was uprooted.

Since, Stokes has been courted by Kentucky, Memphis, Florida, Connecticut, Arkansas as well as numerous other programs that weren’t worthy of making his final list.

Tennessee, however, is back on that list.

It’s not necessarily a credit to Cuonzo Martin’s recruiting judgment, because with Stokes’ ability he would have been crazy not to try to get back in on him.

Instead, it’s validation that what Martin’s selling to recruits is real, and the right kind of players are interested.

Some players wouldn’t be drawn to Martin’s hard-nosed, team-first approach. This is the “ME” generation, and there’s even a few current Vols who have struggled to buy in.

You can find them on the bench.

But Martin’s talk about discipline, toughness and getting after it is music to Stokes’ ears.

The kind of player Martin is recruiting won’t be scared off when they learn that Martin sits players out of games for unexcused tardiness to class, and he pulls them from the floor if they aren’t playing defense.

Stokes could sign — and still might sign — with a much higher profile men’s basketball school that puts upwards of 18,000 fans in the seats on a bad night.

He has already been places where fans greet him at the airport on recruiting visits.

But the hype isn’t what it’s all about to Stokes, based on my dealings with him and those close to his recruitment.

He’s a “yes sir, no sir,” and “where’s the gym,” kind of guy. On his visit to Knoxville a couple of weeks ago, for the Pittsburgh game, Stokes wanted to work out at night – not go out.

Stokes has been working out early mornings and late nights since the TSSAA ruled him ineligible to play high school basketball this season on account of him transferring schools.

Stokes took the opportunity to graduate high school early and is ready to start college in January and possibly play.

How would that work out at Tennessee? Stokes said it’s up to his new coach if he plays or not.

It’s hard to imagine Martin resisting the temptation of using the gifted Stokes. Especially since Stokes’ academic approach is already on par with where it needs to be.

Wednesdays’ Memphis Commercial Appeal story noted that the Tigers don’t have a scholarship available for Stokes, but that he is eligible for an academic scholarship and could walk-on.

Martin isn’t allowed to discuss unsigned recruits, but it’s obvious to most the Vols could use immediate help on the front line.

Perhaps you’re still not sold that Stokes coming to Tennessee is a possibility.

Truth is, it doesn’t matter what fans believe.

Who would have believed a UT team lacking any future NBA players could beat a No. 1-ranked Memphis team in the FedEx Forum a few years back?

So, no, it doesn’t matter if the Vols’ fans believe, and judging from the sub-10,000 actual attendance the past two games, it’s obvious many don’t.

Obviously, if Stokes comes to Tennessee, the attendance would spike and hope would be restored.

But what ultimately matters is if Stokes believes in Martin – and if Martin believes in Stokes.

Martin isn’t recruiting Stokes because he’s a five-star prospect, so much as he’s a prospect that fits the direction Martin wants the Vols to go.

If Stokes didn’t fit the UT system and didn’t have great success, the gains of Martin signing Stokes would be short-lived, and it could actually work against the new UT head coach.

There are still people in Memphis who discuss how Tony Harris didn’t work out in Knoxville a decade ago.

Never mind what J.P. Prince, Dane Bradshaw and Western Tennessean Wayne Chism were able to accomplish, both on and off the floor.

For better or worse, Martin would be judged by how Stokes evolved in the UT program, should the Memphis big man decide Knoxville is the place to play basketball..

Martin will be the same coach and person in two days whether Stokes signs with the Vols, or should he choose to take his skills somewhere else.

And Stokes will be a great prospect wherever he lands.

For one day, however, Martin and the UT basketball nation can allow themselves to smile at the thought of Stokes becoming the cornerstone of the Vols’ basketball program.

Posted by Mike Griffith on December 21, 2011 at 3:27 PM | Bookmark and Share


Comments

All th talk in Memphis is he will end up at UT. I would really love to see him in Tiger blue but the fact that we dont have a scholarship available takes us out of the running right away. Enjoy this kid Knoxville, he is going to be great.

Posted by: tigersteve at December 21, 2011 4:00 PM

Thanks for a classy post tigersteve. It would be good to land a great kid who also happens to be a great player. Thursday will be an interesting day for a lot of people.

Posted by: FWBVol at December 21, 2011 5:36 PM

if Stokes chooses UT i can’t really blame him…UT will have a TON of minutes to offer him, and Memphis doesn’t have a scholarship…he’d have to walk-on with an academic scholarship.

Posted by: Drew at December 21, 2011 7:12 PM

I live in Memphis and just saw Jarnell Stokes and his dad both wearing ORANGE at Walmart. He had on black pants and a hoodie with a power T and an orange hat. GO VOLS!!!

Posted by: vol22 at December 21, 2011 8:39 PM

Congrats UT, if its true… UK can’t get them all… besides, its a good nature border rivalry!

Posted by: UKSkywalker at December 22, 2011 3:17 AM

Jarnell Stokes reveals college choice on Thursday, Arkansas in the mix

The Memphis Commercial Appeal and the Knoxville newspaper revealed yesterday: MEMPHIS – Highly-rated power forward prospect Jarnell Stokes will announce his college plans Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Fino Villa in Collierville. The 6-8, 255-pound Stokes graduated from Southwind High last week, and plans to enroll in January at either Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee […]

Will Arkansas get Stokes to sign? CBS predicts the answer is no

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported today that Arkansas is after a top high school basketball player named Jarnell Stokes. My sources tell me he is leaning to signing with Kentucky. Below are the predictions of a sports writer from CBS. By Jeff Borzello Over the past few years, the early signing period in college basketball […]

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