Jarnell Stokes inked with Tennessee Thursday evening. (Photo by Justin A. Shaw)
Dec. 23, 2011
Tennessee basketball coach Cuonzo Martin announced Thursday that Jarnell Stokes, a five-star power forward from Memphis, has signed an institutional offer of financial aid and will enroll at the University of Tennessee for the start of the spring semester (which begins Jan. 11).
Stokes graduated from Southwind High School this month and will be eligible to play for the Volunteers after the all of the following three procedures are completed: he is officially admitted to the university; he is added to UT's institutional squad list; and he is approved by the NCAA Eligibility Center.
At 6-8, 250 pounds, the 17-year-old Stokes is rated as a consensus national top-20 prospect by PrepStar.com (No. 11) Rivals.com (No. 11), Scout.com (No. 11), CBSsports.com (No. 16) and ESPNU (No. 18). Rivals.com, and PrepStar.com have Stokes ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the state of Tennessee.
"Jarnell is a wonderful young man to be around and he comes from an exceptional family," Martin said. "It's great for our program to get a player of his caliber. But it's just as important to bring in someone with his type of character and substance.
"He has a great approach to life and the game, and he's clearly a special talent."
Stokes, who announced his intentions to attend Tennessee Thursday night, also was an honors student in high school.
"I walk by faith and not by sight, and with prayer comes answers," Stokes said. "I prayed about this decision, and I have faith in coach Cuonzo Martin and the Tennessee program. I plan to just lead by example and show how much I love the game.
"I want to be a key piece to the team's success. I want to win."
Stokes, who will wear jersey No. 5 at UT, said the relationship that Martin and his staff have with former Vol and current Milwaukee Bucks forward Tobias Harris made an impression on him.
"When I was in Knoxville during the fall, Tobias wasn't even on the team anymore, but they really treated him like family," Stokes said. "That showed me a lot. Tobias is the type of guy I try to model myself after--on and off the court. He was successful at Tennessee and moved on to the next level, and I hope to do the same thing."
Prior to attending Southwind this past fall, Stokes was enrolled at Memphis Central High School the previous three years. He was a first-team TSWA Class AAA All-State performer as a junior last season at Central, where he was coached by Andre Applewhite. The Warriors finished the 2010-11 campaign with a 21-9 record and reached the TSSAA Region 8-AAA semifinals.
After playing with the Atlanta Celtics during the summers of 2009 and 2010, Stokes joined the Memphis YOMCA program on the 2011 AAU circuit, where he was coached by Jevonte Holmes. Stokes powered YOMCA to the championship at the Real Deal on the Rock tournament in Little Rock, Ark., and was named MVP of that elite event.
He also led YOMCA to the title game of both the Nike Peach Jam in North Augusta, S.C., and the AAU national championship tournament in Orlando, Fla.
Also a chess enthusiast who wears a size 20 shoe, Stokes chose Tennessee over Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky and Memphis.
He is UT's first prep signee from the city of Memphis since Dane Bradshaw in November 2002.