As a five-star recruit with several of the top schools in the country on his tail, Jarnell Stokes knows he’s being watched on the AAU circuit.
The 6-foot-8 power forward from Memphis uses it as extra impetus to play his hardest every time out.
“First of all, you get a target on your back,” Stokes said. “People know who you are, so you have to bring it.”
Stokes, who will play at Oak Hill Academy (Va.) next season, was simply a dominant inside player for most of the past few years.
This spring and summer, though, he expanded his skill set and added a solid face-up game to his repertoire.
“I’m playing more outside, working on my versatility,” Stokes said.
It’s been working out well so far for Stokes, who ranked near the top of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League in both points and rebounds, averaging 19.3 points and 8.4 rebounds through 14 games. He also topped the Peach Jam in rebounding, grabbing 9.7 per game in South Carolina last week.
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Stokes’ ability to outmuscle smaller defenders and get past slower opponents enables him to get to the free-throw line at an extremely good rate and score efficiently in the post, too.
“Most defenders can’t guard inside and out,” he said. “I’m trying to play my best, bring effort to the floor. But there’s a lot more to improve on.”
Stokes ranks No. 16 in CBSSports.com’s Top 100, and he has plenty of schools on his trial. Recently, though, he named his top six schools: Connecticut, Kentucky, Arkansas, Florida, Memphis and Tennessee.
Out of that group, Arkansas and Memphis are standing out.
“I have a great relationship with the people there,” Stokes said.
Stokes had said in the past that he would likely have committed to Tennessee prior to Bruce Pearl and the Volunteers parting ways, but he is not ready to make a decision just yet.
“I’m looking at style of play,” Stokes said when asked about the factors in his final decision. “And I want to go to a winning program.”
Sounds like Stokes is looking forward to having a target on his back at the next level too.
Photo: Point Guard U