Five-star power forward Jarnell Stokes (6-8, 255/Memphis, Tenn.) will announce his college decision tonight at 7:30 Eastern. Stokes, who will enroll in January and begin playing during the 2011-12 season, has a shortlist of Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Memphis and Tennessee. Of those schools, Florida, Memphis and Tennessee are presumed to be the favorites.
Early in the process, Florida was not much of a factor for Stokes. He was once considered an Arkansas lean because of his relationship with then-head coach John Pelphrey, now a Florida assistant. Stokes’ relationship with Pelphrey has put Florida squarely in the mix for his signature.
Along with the Pelphrey connection, Florida has another thing working in its favor: UF is one of the few schools on Stokes’ shortlist that has an available scholarship, and could allow him to play this season.
According to Stokes' father, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida and Tennessee are the schools with an available scholarship for the talented forward. And with Arkansas not being the factor it once was and UConn never assumed to be a serious contender, it has essentially come down to a Florida-Tennessee battle.
Billy Donovan has yet to land a premier big man in the 2012 class, or, well, any big man, for that matter. After coming up short on numerous post players, such as Mitch McGary, Brice Johnson, Robert Carter, Shaquille Goodwin and others, nabbing a commitment from Stokes would go a long way toward forming a complete frontcourt for the next few seasons.
But will the Pelphrey connection and the available scholarship be enough to lure Stokes to Gainesville? Probably not. Expect for Stokes to remain in state and play for Cuonzo Martin at Tennessee. Stokes would arguably be the most talented player in Knoxville as soon as he arrives on campus and could make an immediate impact for the Vols.