Recruiting Central: Penn State lures another local basketball recruit

Ron Stokes (center) trains athletes . He also runs Top Prospect Sports, taking city football players seeking Div. I scholarships on campus tours and to football camps.
Ron Stokes (center) trains athletes . He also runs Top Prospect Sports, taking city football players seeking Div. I scholarships on campus tours and to football camps. (STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer)
Posted: February 10, 2012

Penn State appears to be the school of choice for local basketball recruits.

Imhotep Charter junior point guard Brandon Austin made an oral commitment Thursday night to play for the Nittany Lions.

He becomes the third area athlete Penn State coach Pat Chambers has lured to State College since being hired in June.

D.J. Newbill, a product of Strawberry Mansion, transferred from Southern Mississippi to Penn State in August. Tabernacle resident Brandon Taylor gave an oral commitment to the Nittany Lions in September. The senior forward plays at Trenton Catholic.

"We are going to turn the program around," Austin said of the Nittany Lions.

The 6-foot-6, 175-pounder said he chose Penn State over Syracuse, Georgetown, Temple, Villanova, Rutgers, Miami, and Tennessee.

"I chose Penn State because of the academics, the coaches, the school, and the program," said Austin, who averages 13 points and 7.5 assists. "I felt like it was a good program for me, and I like it a lot."

He also likes that the Nittany Lions give their point guards freedom to be creative.

Providing exposure

 

 Deion Barnes was curious.

As an unheralded junior football player at Northeast High, Barnes wanted to be like Je'Ron and Malik Stokes.

The Stokes brothers, Vikings teammates of Barnes, were on the radar of Division I college programs.

"And I'm looking like I got the same talent as them," said Barnes, now a redshirt freshman defensive end at Penn State. "I need to get out there like that, too."

So Barnes and his parents started talking to Ron Stokes, Malik's and Je'Ron's father, who runs Top Prospect Sports.

The summer before his senior season, Barnes said, Ron Stokes took him to Michigan for a football camp and to tour the campus.

"And Michigan made a scholarship offer there," Barnes said. "And I'll say about two weeks or three weeks after that, I carried about at least 15 offers."

Stokes said that was part of his plan. And it still is.

That's why he walked away from being an accountant in the finance department of the Crozer Chester Medical Center three years ago to turn Top Prospect Sports into a full-time job.

These days, he puts his athletes through three days a week of weight training at Nirvana Athletic & Fitness Center in the Northeast. On Saturdays, Stokes supervises drills at Velocity Sports Performance in Cherry Hill. And in June, he will conduct his third annual college tour.

The tour will consist of football camps and campus visits at North Carolina, West Virginia, Tennessee, Ohio State, Rutgers, Maryland, Boston College, and Virginia.

So far, six of his athletes have received Division I scholarships. And that doesn't include Malik (a redshirt freshman quarterback) and Je'Ron (a redshirt junior wideout), who are teammates at Bowling Green. Je'Ron transferred to Bowling Green after spending two seasons at Michigan.

"I just started this because I see there's an epidemic in our community where a lot of athletes don't have the knowledge in regards to getting exposure," Stokes said. "I just want to give them a fighting chance."

Dixon in the house?

Pittsburgh basketball coach Jamie Dixon was scheduled to attend Thursday's Public League Class A quarterfinal between World Communications and Constitution.

The Panthers are recruiting Constitution seniors Daiquan Walker and Savon Goodman.

This summer, Goodman, a 6-foot-6 small forward, backed out of an oral commitment to Villanova.

He has offers from Missouri and Gonzaga and is receiving interest from Pittsburgh, UCLA, Kentucky, Temple, Kansas, and Connecticut.

Walker, a 6-2 point guard, has offers from Seton Hall and Central Florida.

He's also receiving interest from Connecticut and Pittsburgh.

Goodman has scored more than 40 points on five occasions this season. The Academy of the New Church transfer averages 27 points. Walker averages 23 points and eight assists.

The Cahillites package

Roman Catholic seniors Darryl Mintz and Marcus Kelly signed scholarships to play football at Kutztown.

Mintz, a 5-9, 180-pound defensive back, led the Cahillites with four interceptions last season. Kelly, a 5-9, 165-pounder, rushed for 1,736 yards and 16 touchdowns.


Contact staff writer Keith Pompey at 215-854-2939, kpompey@phillynews.com,

or @pompeysgridlock on Twitter. Read his blog, "Owls Inq,"

at www.philly.com/owlsinq

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