2012 Hoops Focus-Jarnell Stokes

Bruce Pearl and Tennessee plucked Chris Jones out of Memphis just a few weeks ago. They've already been putting in big time work on the city's next big thing.

p>One of the worst kept secrets in college basketball is how badly Bruce Pearl and Tennessee would like to become more involved in the city of Memphis. Recently, Pearl and his staff plucked 2011 point guard from mighty Memphis (Tenn.) Melrose High. If the Volunteers have their way, Jones won't be the last.

Looming large on their wish list is 6-foot-7 big man Jarnell Stokes. Only a sophomore at Central High, the long armed and strong insider has already made quite an impression.

"My strength is my size and ability to move my feet as a tall person.," said Stokes. "I've got size 20 feet, hopefully I can grow into them and keep getting better."

A bit of a throwback player, Stokes does his best damage with his back to the basket. He spins for dunks, drops in jump hooks and does a good job of kissing home short jumpers off the glass from either side of the lane. He's also an excellent passer out of double teams but he's still working to round out his game.

‘I think that I need to improve my versatility," Stokes told Inside Tennessee. "Being able to shoot more, dribble and get around defenders easier than just trying to power through them."

One thing is for sure, his hometown is oozing with talent. Because of that he faces stiff competition on a nightly basis and he definitely has a lot of pride in where he's from and making sure that people don't see the city's talent boom as a flash in the pan.

"There's a lot of talent in Memphis that is just now getting known," said Stokes. "There's always been a lot of talent, but it seems like we are really known now. I want it to stay that way."

Not surprisingly, programs in addition to Tennessee have taken notice. Stokes already counts hometown Memphis as the early team to beat and mentioned others like Wisconsin, Missouri, Arkansas and Alabama as having shown heavy interest early. As for the Volunteers, he's well aware of their desire to make him their next recruiting victory out of Memphis.

"Tennessee is cool," said Stokes. "It's close to home and I know they want to start getting some more Memphis players."

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