In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated, Dudley E. Dawson chats with Memphis prep basketball star Jarnell Stokes (6-8, 245), a prime 2012 recruiting target for the Razorbacks and someone who is planning a visit to Fayetteville this weekend.
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If everything goes as planned, one of the nation’s top prep basketball players will be on the Arkansas campus this weekend.
Memphis star Jarnell Stokes (6-8, 245) – a five-star player the Razorbacks hope to team with Sylvan Hills star and fellow top 20 national prospect Archie Goodwin in a monster 2012 recruiting class – is scheduled to be in Fayetteville on an unofficial visit.
“That is my goal and as long as my ride comes through I will be there,” Stokes said. “I’m hoping it all works out.”
So does Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson and his staff, who have been a constant at the young man’s YOMCA AAU games this summer.
Stokes' visit would happen Saturday during the Razorbacks' Football Fan Day, which will ironically be held in Bud Walton Arena.
“I love Coach Anderson and that coaching staff,” Stokes said. “I’ve known them since middle school – the end of my seventh grade going into the eighth grade. I love the family atmosphere they have and how t”
"But they also know how to get your ready for the NBA and they have had great success with players from Memphis," Stokes added. "It's a great program with great tradition and a great coaching staff."
Stokes has narrowed his choices to five programs – Arkansas, Memphis, Tennessee, Florida and Connecticut.
“I don’t really have them in any order right now,” Stokes said. “I have really only had small talk with the schools about setting up visits. I am going to wait until after I take this unofficial visit to Arkansas and then set one up with the Razorbacks and then the others.”
Stokes averaged 17.2 points and 9.2 rebounds as a junior last season at Memphis Central, but he is not certain where he is going to play his senior season.
He had initially planned to play at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson (VA), but financial considerations have him rethinking that.
“I still may go to Oak Hill or might play at IMG A(cademy in Bradenton, Fla.) or maybe stay here in Memphis and either go to Southwind or Central,” Stokes said.
Stokes, who said he called and talked to Arkansas assistant T.J. Cleveland for about 90 minutes on Monday, said Oak Hill begins classes on August 29th.
While he has played at Central the past three seasons, Stokes actually lives in the Southwind district.
But Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association executive director Bernard Childress told the Commercial Appeal that Southwind was not an option.
“He’s going to be ineligible if he goes to Southwind, and there will be no hardship,” Childress told the paper. “They don’t even need to waste their time sending that in.
“He’s already (living) in their zone, so there’s no where in the Southwind zone he can move to justify changing schools,” Childress added. “He can’t get eligible.”
All the unprecedented firey rhetoric aside, Southwind does have the option for a de novo (heard anew) appeal and can go above Childress to the TSSAA Control Board.
Stokes would need to be in school somewhere for three days before that appeal could be filed.
TSSAA rules say he must be in school somewhere by Sept. 2.
“I have to make a decision and make it pretty quick,” Stokes said. “If I am going to Oak Hill I would need to be there by the 27th.”
Stokes knows that Arkansas would love to land both him and Goodwin, who recently had 46 points in an all-star event in New York City.
“He’s been my roommate a couple of times this summer and we have become good friends,” Stokes said. “We really haven’t talked much about college. But I am sure when guys start committing and signing in November, we’ll all start trying to get each other to come to our place.”
YOMCA had a banner summer on the AAU circuit.
“I think we went 59-6 or 60-6, something like that,” Stokes said. “I put the six losses on myself because I was not the best player on the floor that night and that’s what I always need to be.”
But don’t get the idea that Stokes is another cocky star athlete. You could figure that out just by following him on twitter, which fans of several schools do.
He often retweets their 140-character or less sentiments about why he should be a Razorback, Tiger, Gator, Husky or Vol.
“I enjoy twitter and communicating with the fans and letting them see a side of me that they might not,” Stokes said. “I try to be very humble and am very blessed to have so many people interested in where I might end up.”
Stokes is hit constantly each day by fans in Memphis telling him he should simply stay home.
“It’s either very, very good or very, very bad,” Stokes said. “But I try to just handle it. I don’t see it as pressure. I try to have fun with it.”