Kamau Stokes always believed he was good enough to play basketball at a high-major school. But coming out of City last spring, every major-conference college coaching staff apparently disagreed.
Without a high-DI offer, Stokes headed to Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy to raise his profile. On Sunday, the 6-foot, 165-pound point guard's gamble officially paid off when he accepted Kansas State's offer.
"I definitely feel like I can play at this level," said Stokes, who played at Dunbar as a junior and John Carroll as a freshman and sophomore. "Last year I felt like I was looked over. ... I used that motivation to go prep … and now I'm here so it feels real good."
Stokes, rated a three-star prospect by Rivals.com, picked the Wildcats over offers from Ole Miss, Bradley, Cal State Fullerton, Fairfield, Florida Gulf Coast, Loyola Chicago and Louisiana Tech.
A Baltimore Sun All-Metro first-team selection last spring, Stokes averaged 15 points, seven assists and four rebounds in leading the Knights to a 27-0 season and the Class 3A state championship. City's other All-Metro first-teamers – Timmy Bond and Omari George – ended up at Eastern Michigan and Bowie State, respectively. Stokes, meanwhile, signed with Toledo last April.
His status with the Rockets changed, however, when assistant coach Jordan Mincy left for Louisiana Tech.
"If it wasn't for the coaching change, I probably would've been at Toledo," Stokes said. "Once the coaching change happened, I was like, 'I'm decommitting, then [I'll try] to go higher.'"
Stokes landed at Fork Union based on a recommendation from a coach. Attending military school in rural Virginia was a major change from his East Baltimore roots, but Stokes said "everything progressed smoothly" and he got the looks he wanted. The National Prep Showcase was a game-changer in terms of his recruitment. Ole Miss was the first high-major to offer him a scholarship, and Kansas State followed suit. Stokes visited both schools.
"The campus was great on both sides, facilities were great on both sides," he said. "The thing that had me [liking] Kansas State was just the opportunity after basketball. I talked to people that were there, and they have great alumni support. I talked to the AD. He was telling me about my opportunities that I had coming from Kansas State after basketball."
At KSU, Stokes will learn the point guard position from a fellow Baltimore native: Lake Clifton grad Chester Frazier, a Wildcats assistant who played at Illinois.
"I didn't know Coach Frazier until this year, when he started recruiting me," Stokes said. "We had stuff in common. One of the big things was my high school coach coached him [earlier in his high school career] at Mervo. He was telling me about Coach Frazier and how good of a person he was. High-character guy. That really stuck out."
Stokes is back in Baltimore now, working out with his father every day and preparing for his move to Manhattan, Kan., in the summer.
"Oh man, I'm excited," Stokes said. "I'm just excited and thankful that I have this opportunity because most kids don't get this opportunity, to be at a high-major school playing in front of 14,000 people every night. ... [Kansas State fans] can expect me to be a great person off the court … and get wins, of course."