Jarnell Stokes picks Vols says 'I’m going to be pushing to play'

No. 11 player in nation

Jarnell's mother Shunta Stokes said his college decision was 'solely up to him. I support his decision wholeheartedly, he's the one that has to attend the school, not me. His dad and I are behind him 100%.'

Photo by Justin A. Shaw, Special to the News Sentinel

Jarnell's mother Shunta Stokes said his college decision was "solely up to him. I support his decision wholeheartedly, he's the one that has to attend the school, not me. His dad and I are behind him 100%."

COLLIERVILLE — Jarnell Stokes’ roller-coaster senior season officially ended Thursday when he completed the schoolwork that allowed him to graduate early.

Next stop: Knoxville.

Stokes, the would-be Southwind High School basketball standout, announced his decision to play for Tennessee on Thursday during a press conference at Fino Villa restaurant.

He said he chose UT over Memphis, Arkansas, Kentucky and Florida and will be eligible to play immediately, pending his enrollment for the spring semester and clearance from the NCAA.

“Honestly, the decision was so back-and-forth,” Stokes said. “(Memphis) coach (Josh) Pastner called me on the first day he got the job. It’s going to be hard to leave the city that I love best but it’s time to grow up and be a man.

“I walk by faith and not by sight. And with prayer comes answers.”

Playing time was almost certainly a key factor for the 6-foot-8, 255-pounder, who was regarded as the nation’s No. 11 prospect when he was still in the class of 2011. Stokes would have had to sit out the remainder of the season had he chosen Memphis because the Tigers don’t have a scholarship to offer.

“I’m ready to play,” he said. “I’m not gonna lie. I’m going to be pushing to play.”

Stokes, who transferred to Southwind from Central last summer, was ruled athletically ineligible at Southwind by Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association executive director Bernard Childress in August because of transfer rules.

His hardship appeal to the TSSAA Board of Control was denied last month, leaving him ineligible to play his senior season at Southwind.

“I don’t regret anything about sitting out,” Stokes said. “If anything, it just showed me how much I really love basketball.”

Stokes drew plenty of laughs in his opening remarks, talking about how he grew from a “goofy kid with an Afro” who excelled in chess into one of the nation’s top prospects.

“It’s surreal for me to be standing here,” he said.

He also drew chuckles with his thoughts on Kentucky coach John Calipari.

“I know a lot of people around here don’t think highly of him, but he’s actually a very engaging guy,” Stokes said.

At UT, Stokes will be reunited with former Central teammate Cameron Clear, who played in all 12 games for the football team this past season as a freshman tight end.

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Comments » 225

TheVolMan writes:

Damn Straight!

utjunkie writes:

FINALLY SOME GOOD NEW! Now lets hope its contagious for the rest of programs.

4114 writes:

Way to to Cuonzo!!!! What a pick up for the VOLS!

rdrgtr writes:

Best news out of ktown in a long tome...

westknoxrepub writes:

Wow, we lucked out.

Colonel_Klink writes:

Awesome, hopefully he can contribute this season. Go Vols

decades_vol (Inactive) writes:

Welcome to the Big Orange family, Jarnell. Now let's have some fan support for this team and Coach Martin. Bring it! Everybody!

bkwats2003#237114 writes:

in response to westknoxrepub:

Wow, we lucked out.

Nice post, Debbie Downer...a Republican for sure.

johnlg00 writes:

Good job, Zo and crew! Welcome, Jarnell! I have been a Martin supporter--or at least a strong HOPER for him--since he was hired, but I honestly didn't expect him to break through to this level in recruiting this soon. I know there were special circumstances that probably helped in this particular case, but signing a guy like Stokes under ANY circumstances is bound to resonate with other recruits who might have had only casual interest in UT. Now let's get him in school, on the practice court, and in uniform ASAP. Let's open the present and see what we got. Merry Christmas to the Big Orange Nation!!!

bobbyutvol writes:

Thank You Welcome to Knoxville

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

WOW! And he can play this yr. Where's the CCM can't recruit crowd?

born2ride writes:

The good news is we got Stokes.

The bad news is we are stuck with Martin another year or so.

voloffaith writes:

in response to westknoxrepub:

Wow, we lucked out.

I'm going to be real plain and real simple......GROW UP!!!! Are ewe sour all day long/sky is falling/my $100 dollar bill has a wrinkle in it/my glass is half empty? If you are so numb to what you type on every atricle that is very sad. I really hope you are a KNS plant that does this as opposed to someone whose life is so dry/empty that this all you can say...

Look to Jesus the true source of joy and he will never let you down...I speak from His faithfulness to me all these 58 years.

Madkels writes:

Hot dang! Best news in a while. Let's hope that this is the first of many positives going forward into 2012! Welcome aboard!

UKblue02 writes:

Congrats vols, now let's play some roundball..

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say whew. Witch Doctor say this one BIG and we really really needed this..but for tonight and tomorrow Witch Doctor an interloper...Go Bucs! Witch Doctor say Swiper gonna have a flat top time the Bucs are done..Witch Doctor admit this kinda fun
Go Vols...er Witch Doctor mean Bucs!
Bones never lie.

FWBVol writes:

in response to westknoxrepub:

Wow, we lucked out.

Take the "we" out of a statement like that. Any true Tennessee fan is excited about Stokes choosing the Vols and what it represents for the future of the program under Martin. Other four and five star guys will probably give Tennessee a closer look because Stokes picked the Vols.

This is a great day for Tennessee basketball.

Rookie2 writes:

Mortimer... we're back! LOL

lomas98 writes:

in response to westknoxrepub:

Wow, we lucked out.

Since Martin has been hired you have complained about his lack of recruiting talent to play in the SEC. I know I could go back through the archives and the only thing you mention is his lack of recruiting, even in games they win. Well, now that Martin reels in a 5 star player with not a lot of time, all you can say is we lucked out. For some reason I think you want Stokes to fail so you can blame Martin for not evaluating. I have agreed I don't think his first class was great but he was not really in a position to bring in talented guys and just hoped to have bodies. I think Richardson will be a decent player. Now that he got Stokes, the attention of other kids in the area will be get noticed. I can't wait to see what your posts are now that Martin has reeled this guy in.

I hope most fans don't think Stokes is the person to make this team make the NCAA tourney. He is not a miracle worker and the team still has a lot of problems. Throw in he hasn't been practicing with the team could complicate his learning pace. Stay patient with him and at least he will be in position to really help next year with a full year of practice under his belt.

Congrats, coach Martin and STaff.

vol75 writes:

Note to all Energy Vampires: Quit sucking the life out of this message board. The negativity is tiresome. Martin is the real deal.

volahoma writes:

Welcome Jarnell! Way to go Cuonzo! Many thanks Bruce!

FanNotSheep writes:

Great job! Maybe I could possibly live to see another good basketball team at UT after all. I hope this is the first of many pleasant surprises for the Vols.

seadaddy writes:

in response to EightLetters:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Get lost troll.

frblalack writes:

TOTALLY AWESOME! All Vol fans are going to like this one! Great job Coach Cuonzo!!!

Special THANKS to Cam Clear for his positive influence! Coach Dooley and Cam Clear!!!

Vols are on the way back to the top of the SEC!!

HtownVol writes:

in response to EightLetters:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I have been disappointed in Martin so far but your comment is just dumb.

Playing in the NIT is going to effect his NBA career?

The NBA does not care if a player comes from a Championship team or a 10 win team.

Do you know that only ONE team wins the championship each year?

If a team makes the dance and gets knocked out in the first round, how is that going to effect a players career opposed to a player on a ten win team?

I never expected Martin to take UT to the dance this season and if you did then you know nothing about the sport.

With this commit UT will no doubt sign some better players and be on track.

Jarnell... THANK YOU!!!!!!!
You will be a hiuge reason that TBA will be packed with 20K UT fans during your UT career.

GO VOLS

rockypop writes:

in response to westknoxrepub:

Wow, we lucked out.

Yeah. I suppose Stokes just flipped a coin and it came up orange.

underthehill writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

WOW! And he can play this yr. Where's the CCM can't recruit crowd?

Looking for some CROW seasoning. That stuff must really taste bad. Martin's background says he can help a pro prospect develop his talents and improve his chances of playing in the NBA. Not many coaches have this edge. Looks like it worked.

FanNotSheep writes:

in response to EightLetters:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Time will tell. Pearl owned little Billy D., aka Eddie Munster. Maybe Martin will get on a roll and pick up where Bruce left off. Get lost Gator!

OldNumber7 writes:

To all you folk beating on Cuonzo'a recruiting...a rousing shut the $#@! up to you.

ROCKYTOP2010 writes:

Welcome to Big Orange Country. You will not regret this decision no matter what anyone says. GO VOLS

midnite__VOL writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say whew. Witch Doctor say this one BIG and we really really needed this..but for tonight and tomorrow Witch Doctor an interloper...Go Bucs! Witch Doctor say Swiper gonna have a flat top time the Bucs are done..Witch Doctor admit this kinda fun
Go Vols...er Witch Doctor mean Bucs!
Bones never lie.

Big Bold Blue and Gold!!!!!!!!!!

Ayres_Hall writes:

Coach Martin is in his 9th month on the job and he has landed a 5 star All American. He’s years ahead of the last coach. Good times are coming.

westknoxrepub writes:

So Martin signed one five star player, who is enrolling mid-year because of a bad decision by the TSSAA, and it came down to us and Florida because Memphis and Kentucky couldn't offer him a scholarship or make him a "recruited walk on" and all of a sudden he's a great recruiter? The fact remains he handed out too many scholarships to undeserving players and lucked out to get Stokes. Now if Stokes pays off, Stokes pays off, but his overall recruiting still needs to improve. Buzz recruited Loften (whom he also lucked out on, though mostly do to the ignorance of other coaches) but couldn't win with him and his overall recruiting was still medicore at best.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to westknoxrepub:

Wow, we lucked out.

Dude, you've been on here lying and crying since before Pearl got fired. All we've heard about is how bad CCM is recruiting. I'll tell you this...other than Maymon Pearl's leftovers are the worst team players on this team. CCM's recruits are producing and look to have TREMENDOUS upside. Let's not forget that Maymon sat the bench behind Steven Pearl. Every 5* Pearl got he either cheated to get or got kicked out of school ( Duke Crews, Ramar Smith, Tobias, Hopson). And even as a CHEATER, Pearl couldn't get anyone out of Memphis!. In 6 months on the job, Zo went and scooped up one of the biggest recruits in UT hoops history. Like it or not. Truth hurts, doesn't it?

TopTenn writes:

The beginning of the best.

miatatom writes:

in response to OldNumber7:

To all you folk beating on Cuonzo'a recruiting...a rousing shut the $#@! up to you.

....and I second that!

FanNotSheep writes:

in response to Ayres_Hall:

Coach Martin is in his 9th month on the job and he has landed a 5 star All American. He’s years ahead of the last coach. Good times are coming.

OK, why take a shot at Pearl? He laid the groundwork for this day to happen. He recruited Stokes hard a long time before Martin even knew UT had a basketball team.

Pearl put UT basketball on the map and all over ESPN. He made a couple of mistakes but did not deserve to be fired. That junior at the barbecue thing would no longer even be a rule violation, and good luck finding any of the so-called MAJOR violations Pearl committed listed as anything but secondary. The NCAA had a 20-year-old axe to grind and they used it on Pearl.

Good day for Martin. Lay off Pearl.

The T-shirt I would buy needs to say, "We back Pat, but we back-stabbed Bruce"

FanNotSheep writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Dude, you've been on here lying and crying since before Pearl got fired. All we've heard about is how bad CCM is recruiting. I'll tell you this...other than Maymon Pearl's leftovers are the worst team players on this team. CCM's recruits are producing and look to have TREMENDOUS upside. Let's not forget that Maymon sat the bench behind Steven Pearl. Every 5* Pearl got he either cheated to get or got kicked out of school ( Duke Crews, Ramar Smith, Tobias, Hopson). And even as a CHEATER, Pearl couldn't get anyone out of Memphis!. In 6 months on the job, Zo went and scooped up one of the biggest recruits in UT hoops history. Like it or not. Truth hurts, doesn't it?

So this is how UT fans treat the best basketball coach the program ever had? The only coach to take them past the second round of the NCAA tournament? No wonder they call it a football school. Apparently most of the fans used to play football -- without a helmet.

rrnichol#212557 writes:

Is he eligible to go to the NBA after this season? Not saying he will, but just wondering.

lomas98 writes:

in response to westknoxrepub:

So Martin signed one five star player, who is enrolling mid-year because of a bad decision by the TSSAA, and it came down to us and Florida because Memphis and Kentucky couldn't offer him a scholarship or make him a "recruited walk on" and all of a sudden he's a great recruiter? The fact remains he handed out too many scholarships to undeserving players and lucked out to get Stokes. Now if Stokes pays off, Stokes pays off, but his overall recruiting still needs to improve. Buzz recruited Loften (whom he also lucked out on, though mostly do to the ignorance of other coaches) but couldn't win with him and his overall recruiting was still medicore at best.

You are an idiot.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to westknoxrepub:

So Martin signed one five star player, who is enrolling mid-year because of a bad decision by the TSSAA, and it came down to us and Florida because Memphis and Kentucky couldn't offer him a scholarship or make him a "recruited walk on" and all of a sudden he's a great recruiter? The fact remains he handed out too many scholarships to undeserving players and lucked out to get Stokes. Now if Stokes pays off, Stokes pays off, but his overall recruiting still needs to improve. Buzz recruited Loften (whom he also lucked out on, though mostly do to the ignorance of other coaches) but couldn't win with him and his overall recruiting was still medicore at best.

Looks to me that the guys CCM brought in in his first class are gonna be some really good ball players. Throw in Stokes and they are gonna do some big things. And tell me this...If Pearl were still here, would Memphis and UK still have a scholarship for him? NOOOOO! Yet you would be on here running your carpet muncher like Pearl was a God. You know it and I know it. How many players did Pearl get from Memphis?

rockytopatl writes:

in response to westknoxrepub:

So Martin signed one five star player, who is enrolling mid-year because of a bad decision by the TSSAA, and it came down to us and Florida because Memphis and Kentucky couldn't offer him a scholarship or make him a "recruited walk on" and all of a sudden he's a great recruiter? The fact remains he handed out too many scholarships to undeserving players and lucked out to get Stokes. Now if Stokes pays off, Stokes pays off, but his overall recruiting still needs to improve. Buzz recruited Loften (whom he also lucked out on, though mostly do to the ignorance of other coaches) but couldn't win with him and his overall recruiting was still medicore at best.

What does Martin recruiting Stokes, who could have gone anywhere beyond the list of schools allegedly considered, have to do with Buzz? I normally laugh off trolls like you, but your lack of logical thinking defines you as a sub-troll, a kind of low-life, bottom-feeding pond scum.

rockypop writes:

in response to westknoxrepub:

So Martin signed one five star player, who is enrolling mid-year because of a bad decision by the TSSAA, and it came down to us and Florida because Memphis and Kentucky couldn't offer him a scholarship or make him a "recruited walk on" and all of a sudden he's a great recruiter? The fact remains he handed out too many scholarships to undeserving players and lucked out to get Stokes. Now if Stokes pays off, Stokes pays off, but his overall recruiting still needs to improve. Buzz recruited Loften (whom he also lucked out on, though mostly do to the ignorance of other coaches) but couldn't win with him and his overall recruiting was still medicore at best.

Seriously - you need to call it a night. And that includes locking the liquor cabinet. And, by the way, the kid you referred to as "Loften," is actually, Lofton. And, even Rick Pitino will tell you that Peterson didn't "luck out" on him. As far as Peterson recruiting "mediocre" players, just look at what BP did with them.

Dougb-VFL writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

WOW! And he can play this yr. Where's the CCM can't recruit crowd?

They are all laying low on this wonderful day!Cuonzo will get this team back to its winning ways sooner than most haters think.I hope this young man dominates the game like I have heard he will and maybe it will bring some life into some of our DYING fanbase. VFL

Flabbergasted writes:

in response to EightLetters:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sour grapes for a Mem-piss PussieCat lover? I think so. Who cares what you think? Go Big Orange!!!

bigsteve92 writes:

this season might just turned backa round as soon as he starts playing this season

drum56 writes:

in response to westknoxrepub:

So Martin signed one five star player, who is enrolling mid-year because of a bad decision by the TSSAA, and it came down to us and Florida because Memphis and Kentucky couldn't offer him a scholarship or make him a "recruited walk on" and all of a sudden he's a great recruiter? The fact remains he handed out too many scholarships to undeserving players and lucked out to get Stokes. Now if Stokes pays off, Stokes pays off, but his overall recruiting still needs to improve. Buzz recruited Loften (whom he also lucked out on, though mostly do to the ignorance of other coaches) but couldn't win with him and his overall recruiting was still medicore at best.

seriously dude you are an idiot! when would you ever be happy! Go cheer for Vandy or something....you are a loser just like them!

FanNotSheep writes:

in response to bigsteve92:

this season might just turned backa round as soon as he starts playing this season

It's gotta help, but remember the last basketball he played was as a high school junior. Hopefully we have him two or three years and he makes them memorable. Tennessee basketball needed this so badly it's hard to overstate it. Stokes will surely sell some popcorn in TBA!

Volfan1 writes:

in response to bkwats2003#237114:

Nice post, Debbie Downer...a Republican for sure.

Is this a political board? Don't think so. But leave it to a "nothing is right with this country" liberal to use it to make an insult and offer nothing of substance.
And on point, GREAT news!!!!

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

All I can say is...YES!!!!!

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