NBPA: Jarnell Stokes Spotlight

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. --- Upon first glance, you'd think Jarnell Stokes belongs on the gridiron, not the basketball court.

The Memphis (Tenn.) Central rising junior stands a chiseled 6-foot-8, 250 pounds.

"My mom and dad, they're big, so I'm naturally big," Stokes said, "but I've turned it into muscle."

Stokes did start on the gridiron – and college football programs are hoping he makes his return to the sport.

"I grew up playing football, but I hurt my leg so I stopped," he said. "I've got offers to play football and they haven't seen me touch the field. Tennessee, Missouri, Ole Miss have offered. Coaches come and talk to me but I haven't touched the field.

"I've got a little interest in playing football again, but if I do I'll play defense this time – defensive end."

Yet there may be no need for that. At the NBPA Top 100 Camp this week Strokes is showing why he's such a heralded basketball prospect in the class of 2012.

He's an immovable object in the paint – no one can outmuscle him – but he can do more than bulldoze the opposition. He's got quick feet and an agile body, facing up and maneuvering around defenders in the post.

"My team here, we don't have as many bigs, so I'm forced to play the ‘5' and can't really play my game," said Stokes, who wears a size 20 shoe. "I'm a natural ‘4.' I can play some 5, but I face up those who are slower and post up those who are smaller."

June 15 marked the first day college coaches could call the rising junior class and the Stokes household received plenty of calls.

"Memphis, Tennessee, Missouri, Ole Miss," he began. "North Carolina, Maryland, Florida State."

There were assuredly others, but those were the first ones he could remember. Most of the calls went to his father, while hometown Memphis called Stokes directly at 12:05 a.m. on the 15th.

Stokes admitted an affinity for the Tar Heels, though UNC's interest and recruitment of him is very much in the initial stages

"They called my dad on June 15th and they've sent me letters," he said. "I like North Carolina – who doesn't? But I haven't talked to the coaches yet."

Jarnell Stokes Profile


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