Men's College Basketball

Stokes ready to help Hawks chase conference crown

Marshall County (Ky.) forward Tyler Stokes dunks during a game this winter. The 6-foot-5 Stokes is one of four high school seniors to commit to the Quincy University men’s basketball program. | Photo courtesy Marshall County Daily
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 26, 2020 12:01 am Updated: May. 18, 2020 10:15 pm

QUINCY -- Tyler Stokes never quibbled.

Because of his size and strength and the lack of anyone bigger on his Marshall County (Ky.) boys basketball team, the 6-foot-5 Stokes spent his senior season primarily playing with his back to the basket and doing much of the grunt work.

"I had to do some rebounding and guard some big guys, and that's not a problem for me," Stokes said.

But there is more to his game, something that intrigued Quincy University men's basketball coach Ryan Hellenthal when he watched him play last summer and why the Hawks made him a recruiting priority.

Stokes already has signed a national letter of intent with Quincy and is one of four high school seniors to have signed or committed to the Hawks. He joins Rock Island center Soloman Gustafson, Riverside-Brookfield swingman Paul Zilinskas and St. Louis Ladue point guard Jalen Boyd in the Class of 2020.

"I want to make people around me better," Stokes said. "I feel I can have an impact right away at Quincy. I feel that's Coach Hellenthal's vision, and eventually I want to work my way into that starting lineup. I don't know when that will be, but I would love to get into that starting lineup."

His versatility should make that possible. Stokes averaged 14.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game this winter as the Marshals went 23-11, while shooting 53 percent from the field and 77 percent from the free-throw line.

He also shot 36 percent from 3-point range, making 27 treys in limited time on the perimeter.

"I want to be a threat inside and out," Stokes said. "I want to be able to play with my back to the basket when I'm matched up with smaller guards. That's really what Coach Hellenthal told me."

His physical play and toughness contributed to Stokes becoming a solid defender, too.

"My dad always said if you attack them it will make them back off instead of attacking you," Stokes said.

It's the kind of approach that works well in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

"I want to get to the top of that conference," Stokes said. "I understand we have stuff to build on, but I want to win a conference championship while I'm there. That's my goal without even putting on a Quincy uniform yet."

He's excited to don the uniform, although he already feels like part of the family.

"When I went up there, I felt at home with the coaching staff, with the school staff and with the players," Stokes said. "I already talk to most of the players on a daily basis. I liked the atmosphere with the fans and how things are up there."