Sunday, May 4, 2008

Shaq Stokes- Future Big East Baller?

St. Patrick's (NJ) is one of the most well-regarded high school basketball programs in the United States. Head Coach Kevin Boyle seems to re-stock his talent every season, and this year was no different, as he brought in three of the premiere freshman in America, 6'5 forward Michael Gilchrist, 6'1 guard Derrick Gordon, and 5'10 guard Shaq Stokes. Not that long ago, I spoke with Stokes, a member of the Metro Hawks' U-16 squad on the AAU circuit. As of now, Shaq says that he doesn't have any scholarships offers, though he is receiving interest from UCLA, Cincinnati, Villanova, North Carolina St., and Xavier. Right now, the freshman says that "probably . . . Xavier" is in the lead right now because "the program is building up, they've really had success over the past year, [and he] really likes that school." Although he has yet to get to Ohio to take a look at the school, he "would like to." Shaq's dream schools are UConn and Georgia Tech. "I like Connecticut because the coach is tough-nosed," said Shaq, who later added that the Huskies' "Jim Calhoun" is the coach he most admires at the NCAA level. As for Georgia Tech, he said: "I like [the school] because great guards from New York City come [out] from that school, [such as] Kenny Anderson [and] Stephon Marbury. I [feel like I can] . . . be the next one." Stokes, who ended up at St. Pat's "to follow Corey Fisher because he came out of New York City, . . . [and] it's a great school to go to." Stokes did not get to play much on the varsity team this year, primarily running with the JV squad. On not getting to play with the varsity all that much, Stokes said that he "was frustrated a lot," and there were even "a few times [that he wanted to transfer], but [he] wanted to stick it [out]." Stokes is definitely toughing it out, as he does "plan on going" to St. Patrick's next year, and continuing his career as a Celtic. "Going to the basket, . . . [and] making other people better," is what the undersized guard says is his forte. Meanwhile, he claims that his major weakness is "listening, . . . not following directions," by which he means that "sometimes the coach [will] tell [him] to do something and [he] wants to do [his] own thing. That's the only reason [he] thinks [he] didn't play at St. Pat's." As for the future, Stokes plans on "working hard in practice everyday [and] listening to the coach." If you'll recall, earlier in the article, I mentioned that the coach Shaq most admires is Jim Calhoun, well, his favorite player is "Carmelo Anthony" because "he's smooth on the court," and the player he compares his game to is UConn-bound Kemba Walker. As well, from reading the rest of the article, you can likely tell that Stokes likes current Villanova Wildcat Corey Fisher. All four of these people--Calhoun, Anthony, Walker, and Fisher--have Big East ties. Thus, it seems that Stokes is likely to end up playing ball in that conference, and he agrees: "Yeah, I think . . . a Big East school, [but] only time will tell." Assuming Shaq Stokes lives up to his potential and the high expectations that have been place upon him, then a Big East school may well be in his future.

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