Gahanna's Stokes living up to family legacy
Despite his family's background in basketball, Gahanna Lincoln High School senior Ronnie Stokes Jr. doesn't feel oversaturated with the sport.
"I never get tired of basketball," said Stokes, a senior guard for the Lions boys team. "I love it. It's always been there and I've grown up with it. I always want to get in the gym and work."
In addition to being the son of the former Ohio State player and current Buckeyes men's basketball radio analyst of the same name, Stokes is the third of four siblings to play high school basketball.
The oldest, Laurel Stokes, is a 2006 DeSales graduate who helped the Stallions girls team earn a Division II regional runner-up finish her senior year. She later played for Kenyon College.
Amber Stokes made the ThisWeek Super 12 in each of her four seasons before graduating from Gahanna in 2008. She is a redshirt senior for the Ohio State women's team.
Sophomore Sydney Stokes has been a key contributor for the Gahanna girls team this winter.
"I think it's helped having my two older sisters set the bar pretty high basketball-wise and academic-wise," Stokes Jr. said. "(My sisters also) have set the bar high because they're all great defenders."
Stokes Jr. saw limited action as a sophomore when the Lions went 23-2, shared the OCC-Ohio Division championship with Pickerington North and lost to Northland 57-52 in a Division I regional semifinal.
Last season, he scored in all but one of Gahanna's 23 games, averaging seven points as the Lions went 16-7.
Stokes Jr. was the only player to score in each of the Lions' first 14 games this season. He had 11 in a 57-49 win over Garfield Heights on Jan. 27 in the Dunk 4 Diabetes Shootout at Walsh University in North Canton and was averaging 9.7 points before playing Reynoldsburg on Jan. 29.
He made three 3-pointers and scored a career-high 22 points during a 63-60 loss to Grove City on Jan. 4. His previous career high came last season when he had 19 points in a 71-62 win over the Greyhounds.
The Lions' league game against Newark on Jan. 25 was postponed because of bad weather. They had won four in a row before playing Reynoldsburg.
That followed a stretch in which Gahanna had four players miss a combined 13 games for disciplinary reasons. Gahanna went 2-4 during that stretch, which followed a 4-0 start.
"Ronnie does a little bit of everything," coach Tony Staib said. "He can score, he can defend really well and he sees the floor well. At the end of the night, everything in the stat column has a check by it. He's been a tremendous leader for us. He has a very high basketball IQ and I think that comes from being a part of a basketball family. You only have to tell him something once and he gets it."
"We played pretty unselfishly against Groveport and (Westerville Central)," Stokes Jr. said of his team's wins over the Cruisers (67-43 on Jan. 18) and Warhawks (72-56 on Jan. 22). "I think we'll do well down the stretch. Since we have everybody back we're going to make a big run now."
Ronnie Stokes Sr. scored 857 career points for Canton McKinley, including 17.1 per game as a senior in 1980-81.
He then played for Ohio State from 1981-85. He was a captain as a junior and senior, made second-team all-Big Ten as a senior and is tied for sixth on the Buckeyes' career steals list with 158. He has been the analyst on the team's radio broadcasts since 1997.
Stokes Jr. is hoping to play college basketball and has received interest from schools including Heidelberg and Muskingum.
"I always wanted to be like (my dad)," he said. "I'm not as good of a player as my dad, but with whatever I do he just wants me to be happy. I've always just wanted to play to the best of my ability and go wherever it takes me."