Class of 2012 power forward Jarnell Stokes (#17) is one of the best players in the country and is being chased by some of the top programs in all of college basketball. He has agreed to give National Recruiting Spotlight exclusive access to his life and recruitment in his player blog and will reveal any important developments regarding his recruitment in these entries. Make sure you follow him @JarnellStokes on Twitter!
Hey blog readers, this is Jarnell Stokes again. Thanks for showing your support of my last blog, I really appreciate all the support I got and thank you guys for reading it. Today, I have an important announcement to make and would also like to expand of some of the schools recruiting me that I’ve been dreadfully waiting to say over Twitter.
I’ve been thinking of doing this since I was a little boy — like eight or nine — and the time has finally come for me to make this decision. I’ve decided to transfer to Oak Hill Academy (Virginia) next year to become a Warrior. I think it will be a perfect fit, I love the tradition they have and the great players that have gone through their, such as Carmelo Anthony, one of my favorite players. They play a national schedule, the exposure is tremendous and one of our main goals next year will be to win the national championship.
I also heard one of the coaches from the Nike LeBron James Skills Academy and ESPN Fran Fraschillo, say something recently that reminded me of Oak Hill. He said, “If you are the best player on your playground, then you need to find another playground.” This quote means a lot to me and Oak Hill instantly popped into my head when he said this. I feel like this really relates to my situation because people say I’m one of the better players in Memphis and I’m giving that up to go to a place where I will share the basketball and win a national championship with great competition day in and day out.
Some people in my respected hometown may call this decision selfish, but if you think about what I’m giving up you wouldn’t think the same. I’m passing up being the so called “King of Memphis” in my home town, I’m passing up shot attempts, I’m passing up girls and just basically being a rock star and having it made in Memphis. This is actually the first time I will be away from all my family and friends. I could be the state player of the year, contend for a state championship and average close to 30 points per game at my old high school, Memphis Central (Tennessee), but I’m going to a boarding school in Virginia because I think it will be best for me to make my dreams come true at Oak Hill.
I’ve played with many of my future teammates in the past which is one thing that I think will help my transition. I’ve played with [class of 2012 small forward] Jordan Adams (#50) throughout our time with the Atlanta Celtics and we have a great relationship because we’ve been to a lot of camps together and have played with each other a lot. I’ve also played with [class of 2012 point guard] D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (#32) at the LeBron Academy. He’s a cool guy, he’s easy to get along with and he’s a very good point guard.
Another guy that I’ve played with is [class of 2012 center] A.J. Hammons (#48); he’s also cool and he does all of the little things that needs to be done to get a victory. I’ve played with [class of 2012 small forward] Damien Wilson at the Atlanta Celtics as well, obviously he has connections with Memphis and I’ve been playing with him for a while so he’s a great guy that I just get along with.
When I got that phone call from Oak Hill head coach Steve Smith, I was just amazed because when I talked to him it just sounded like the next step in my life. Eventually, I want to be a pro and given the tradition that Oak Hill has with sending guys to the NBA, I just couldn’t turn that down.
Now I want to switch subjects and talk a little bit about my recruitment. Earlier I listed six schools – Memphis, Tennessee, UConn, Florida, Kentucky and Arkansas. Well, those are my top six schools but I’m still wide open. The day I commit is the day my heart is just inside a school and a coach. Things that are important in my recruitment includes teams being on the same page about winning a National Championship. I think when everyone’s winning everyone is happy and gets a piece of the pie.
Being the main guy doesn’t really matter to me and the school I’d like to talk about first is Arkansas. I have a good relationship with head coach Mike Anderson and assistant coach T.J. Cleveland. I just love how they preach family and I think they are building something great at Arkansas. They will be one of the top schools in the SEC soon. I did have a visit planned at Arkansas last week but I went to Drivers Ed so it was canceled and we postponed that.
The next school I want to talk about is Tennessee because at first I was a little low on them but now after talking to that coaching staff, I can pretty much say that they’re a bunch of cool guys and they understand me really well. I had a long talk with head coach Cuonzo Martin and I was just amazed that he understood everything I was going through. He also played in the NBA so he knows what it takes to get a guy to the pros.
UConn is another school that I’m interested because I’ve talked to assistant coach Kevin Ollie some. He’s a cool guy and he’s also played in the NBA – obviously NBA experience means a lot to me. I’ve talked some to the head coach Jim Calhoun too but I plan on doing that soon.
I like Florida too because they’re in the SEC and they will be one of the best teams in the conference partially due to the addition of [class of 2011 shooting guard] Bradley Beal (#5). I have a tight relationship with assistant coach John Pelphrey because of his tenure at Arkansas and now that he’s gone to Florida we’re even tighter. I’ve talked to head coach Billy Donovan too and he’s showed me that Florida is very interested in me. They’ve compared me to Udonis Haslem and I’m cool with being compared to him but I hope that eventually I will expand my game to be somewhat like Derrick Williams.
Regarding Kentucky, I mentioned them in my last blog in my top six because I’ve had a talk with head coach John Calipari and I’ve gotten calls from the assistant coaches, but I haven’t really talked to them a lot. However, if that opens up, I will consider them a lot stronger because the way they produce NBA players and prepare guys is just amazing. I know that Coach Cal can get it done because I grew up a Memphis Tiger fan when he was the coach and that definitely has a lot to do with my interest in them.
The last school in my top six is Memphis and I really like the new hire of assistant coach Damon Stoudamire. I also like the strength and conditioning coach and the NBA experience that the coaching staff has like assistant coach Jack Murphy and the college experience that head coach Josh Pastner has. I think they’re taking very many steps in the right direction as far as being one of the better programs in the country. I think coach Pastner will be of the greatest coaches of all-time in the next decade.
Another thing I want to mention real quick is that I want to stay home, but if I do stay home it will be a business decision, meaning I’ll go to whatever college I’m going to go to because it’s the best option for me as a basketball player and student-athlete. I’m just not the flashy top of guy that cares about being a rock star type of person and being famous in my home town. I’m just trying to make the best decision for me and to win in the process. Once again, I want to emphasize that I’m wide open and even though these are my top six schools, I am still considering others and things could change. These are just the schools I’m very high on, but I also like Auburn, UCLA, Florida State, Ole Miss, Maryland, West Virginia, Marquette, Tulsa and North Carolina.
Another thing I want to talk further about is the LeBron Skills Academy. I understand that a lot of camps are guard camps but I think I ran the floor very well and did the things that I needed to do to help my team win; although I think I could have rebounded and blocked shots better. As far as my favorite player to go up against, I think [class of 2012 small forward] Justin Anderson (#45) was the most enjoyable to go against. We guarded each other and he’s a fun guy because he makes the game exciting.
This camp was a great experience — especially because LeBron was there — and I got to play against LeBron and take pictures with him. Hearing him talk from the heart and not something scripted from the media was cool. He really opened up to us and I’m learning that LeBron isn’t a bad person like a lot of people portray him as.
He talked to us about how it was for him growing up and some mistakes he made as a high school kid and some things that he thought he could have done better. He talked about his decision to go to Miami and how he turned down all the shot attempts, the fame and being close to his family.
Playing against him… he can flat out shoot the ball. It’s crazy how people say he can’t shoot the ball because he can shoot really well. He was lights on the entire camp, and I mean from everywhere including half court! It was crazy and I was just amazed to see this someone who I always watch on T.V. play right in front of me. Seeing him in person was just amazing, it’s just something a lot of people don’t get to do.
One thing that I’m really looking forward to is the Peach Jam in North Augusta, South Carolina. I can’t wait to play with my team, the Memphis YOMCA because they love to win and they will play their hearts out to win. Many people didn’t believe we would be where we are now — winners of the Real Deal on the Rock and being one of the top seeds at the Peach Jam.
I’m looking forward to playing in front of college coaches and play against guys I see every day in these camps. This is my chance to win the Peach Jam and that would mean everything to me; that’s the only thing on my mind right now.
Now I would like to talk about my recent workout schedule and what I’ve been doing to improve as a player. I’ve been working to expand my game so I can play the three later in my career. I like the fact that I’m self-motivated to get in the gym with my trainer, [YOMCA head] coach Jevonte Holmes, every morning and every night. It’s funny how it seems that the more I run and workout the more weight I gain. I think that and constantly getting to the track are small steps in the right direction to expand my game and I think it’s finally starting to show.
People say my feet are too big, people say I’m too big and because I weigh 250 pounds, I’m supposed to be limited to certain areas on the floor. However, there are guys that are doing it and they are my motivation every day. I look at guys like Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Williams as people who I want to play like. They are a mismatch nightmares day-in and day-out! People may doubt me but I think with the work ethic I have, it can eventually happen.
Some basketball things that I’ve been working on include improving my ball-handling skills, developing a better shot and defending the perimeter better. I work on my lateral movement everyday to be able to guard other small forwards because if I want to make a smooth transition defense is important.
Thanks everyone for the support and continue to give me feedback on Twitter (@JarnellStokes) and Facebook.
Now, I’d like to introduce a new part of my blog where I’ll answer some questions that readers send in (if you would like me to answer a question, send it to
firstname.lastname@example.org and it could get answered!). I feel like this is a good opportunity for me to connect with you guys and give you a better idea of what I’m like.
“Which coach best represents your personal values, on and off the court?” – David (Memphis)
I like how Mike Anderson of Arkansas runs his program and his perspective on things and how he runs things off the court. Basketball is a commitment for him too because he stays in shape as a 50-year-old man and he’s probably in better shape than the whole team. He has faith in god – he preaches that – and he also preaches family. He would be the ideal type of person that I want to play for in college, I like him as a person.
“What is Connecticut telling you when they are recruiting you?” – Joey (New Jersey)
They are preaching one simple word that means a lot to me. WIN! That word is underrated in the recruiting process these days.
“What would you do if you couldn’t play basketball?” – Marc (Memphis)
Without basketball, I’d love to major in business finance and become an entrepreneur. Those guys make money make money and have fun in the process. Eventually I want to become my own boss.
Thanks again to Jarnell Stokes for giving us an inside look at his life and recruitment. If you would like Jarnell to talk about anything specific, you can send an e-mail to National Recruiting Spotlight at email@example.com with your tips and suggestions. Don’t forget to follow both Jarnell (@JarnellStokes) and Josh (@JoshPaunilNRS) on Twitter.