HYATTSVILLE, Md. — Isaiah Stokes would be the big man on campus on another team, but at No. 6-ranked IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.), the 6-8 senior is just another top 100 prospect.
Stokes weighed 310 just a couple of years ago, when he was an offensive and defensive lineman on the football team at Lausanne Collegiate (Memphis). The younger brother of NBA player Jarnell Stokes has cut 60 0r 70 pounds since then and made himself into a top basketball recruit. His transfer to IMG this season was another step in pushing his limits.
On Saturday, he helped lead the Ascenders (7-0) to a 86-69 defeat of Gray Collegiate (Columbia, S.C.) at the National High School Hoops Festival at DeMatha High.
While American Family Insurance Preseason ALL-USA guard Trevon Duval had 17 points and nine assists and Emmitt Williams had 19 points, Stokes had a near-double with 12 points and nine rebounds.
“He has a tremendous feel for the game and his I.Q. is off the charts,” IMG coach Vince Walden said. “He did a great job against their zone. We do a good job of preparing him for what he’ll do at the next level.”
A key for Stokes is he’s not needed to be a post at IMG, with Williams and Silvio DeSousa taking up plenty of space underneath. Stokes is active enough to show he should fit in well next season at power forward for Florida. He pulled down his share of rebounds but also brought the ball up at times and started fast breaks with quick outlet passes.
“I’m a four,” Stokes said. “I’m too small at the next level or the level after that (to play center).”
The toughest part of playing at IMG is leaving his family behind in Memphis.
“I am getting better competition,” Stokes said. “You have to love the game.
“The toughest part is leaving home for the first time, leaving my little sister and my mom and dad. I feel like it will pay off in the long run. I feel like I’m going to college a year early.”
The two-day National High School Hoops Festival is featuring several Super 25 teams and elite recruits.
In the game immediately following IMG’s win, prep school Putnam Science (Putnam, Conn.) took over in the second half for a 76-47 defeat of No. 8 Westtown School (West Chester, Pa.), which was playing without Mohamed Bamba because of a team suspension.
Hamidou Diallo, a preseason American Family Insurance ALL-USA player, led Putnam with 29 points and nine rebounds, including several highlight-reel dunks.
Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) was not ranked coming into its game with Pebblebrook (Mableton, Ga.) on Saturday, but the Panthers made a statement with a 72-56 victory. Pebblebrook’s Collin Sexton, a recent Alabama signee, had 29 points but was only eight of those came after halftime. James Slater led Paul VI with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
In the nightcap, Notre Dame signee D.J. Harvey had 25 points to help No. 12 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) hold off No. 15 Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.) 66-58.