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Top-25 senior ends recruitment, picks Vols

It’s been an interesting road that class of 2012 power forward Jarnell Stokes has traveled. First, he decided to transfer from Memphis Central High School (TN) to Oak Hill Academy (VA) over the summer, then he backtracked and chose not to go. Later he attempted to transfer to a school close to him in Southwind High School (TN) but was ultimately ruled ineligible to play his senior season of basketball. Two days ago, Stokes announced on Twitter that he would commit to a college and possibly enroll a semester early.

Now he’s a Tennessee Volunteer.

The Volunteers were long an after-thought in Stokes recruitment because of how he openly favored Memphis and then later Arkansas after former Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl was fired. He also had some interest in Kentucky but they didn’t recruit him hard so they remained low on his list.

“I haven’t really talked to them a lot,” Stokes said about the Wildcats in his NRS player blog during the summer. “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 [head] coach [John] Calipari 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.”

In an earlier blog entry, he also discussed his hesitance towards Tennessee because of the changeover from staffs. “At Tennessee, I was really high on them before [former head coach] Bruce Pearl got fired but the new coaching staff seems cool,” said Stokes in his debut blog. “Although, our relationship isn’t up to par like it is with the other coaching staffs which is kind of hurting their chances.”

However, that only took about a month to change. Less than 30 days later Stokes was singing the praises of the new Volunteer staff and gave Tennessee fans some hope.

“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,” said Stokes in July. “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.”

Stokes will likely join the Volunteers next semester since he graduated from high school a semester early and is permitted by NCAA rules to play with Tennessee. He will be the newest member on a team that’s below .500 and has recent losses to Austin Peay and College of Charleston.

One area that Tennessee is struggling in is rebounds, averaging just over 37 a game which is good for 99th in the country behind teams like Pepperdine, Texas State and Central Connecticut State. However, this is one area that Stokes will certainly be able to help in. He should also be a contributor in Tennessee’s scoring attack and defensive game plan.

Here’s an except of our evaluation of Stokes:

Stokes is a very strong post-player who rebounds well and uses his big body to his advantage. He is a tough big-man who utilizes the base line to his advantage where he consistently scores. However, he needs to develop some more post-moves and try to get a little quicker and more agile so he can match-up better against athletic big men. Those are two things he has been working on and he’s working to become quick enough to play some small forward as well. Noticeable improvements have been seen in those areas. He can also improve his counter-moves and develop a better mid-range game to add to his offensive arsenal. Look for him to be a rebounding machine in college and to begin to dominate as he continues to better his offensive skill set since he already has the size and mentality to take over games.

You can also check out his highlight tape below:

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