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St. Barnard High Star Stokes Player of Year : Vikings’ Center Tops in Division I

St. Bernard High basketball star Ed Stokes, a 6-11 senior headed for the University of Arizona, has been named the Southern Section Division I Player of the Year by the First Interstate Bank/Amateur Athletic Foundation board of sportswriters.

Stokes was the only South Bay prep selected to the Division I team, which consists of players from the Southern Section 5-AA and 5-A divisions. He was a near-unanimous pick as player of the year, outpolling Lakewood forward Brian Camper.

In leading St. Bernard to a 23-6 record and the Camino Real League title, Stokes averaged 25 points, 15 rebounds and four blocked shots a game. His rebound and block totals were the best in the South Bay.

The agile center bounced back from an injury-plagued junior season to blossom into one of the Southland’s most dominant big men. He improved his inside play, shooting 76% from the floor, and continued to display a nice shooting touch. He was the Vikings’ second-best three-point shooter and made 73% of his free throws.

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“He probably has as much big-time potential as anybody we’ve had,” said St. Bernard Coach Jim McClune.

Although he was double- and triple-teamed in most games, Stokes carried the Vikings throughout the season. And he did it without the help of the team’s second-best player, senior forward Juno Armstrong, a three-year varsity starter who was sidelined early in the season with a viral infection.

Stokes led St. Bernard to the second round of the 5-AA playoffs, where the Vikings lost to Redlands. He was a unanimous choice as the Camino Real Most Valuable Player.

Stokes enjoyed some of his best performances against tough competition.

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He had 34 points, 23 rebounds and 10 blocked shots Dec. 17 in a 65-61 win over Bay League titlist Rolling Hills in the championship game of the Beverly Hills Tournament. A week later, he scored a game-high 29 points in a match-up against Artesia’s highly regarded center, 6-8 junior Ed O’Bannon, to lead the Vikings to an 87-67 victory in the Las Vegas Valley Tournament.

Stokes, who signed with Arizona last November, becomes the 22nd St. Bernard player to earn a spot with a four-year college team since 1979. He chose the Wildcats over Louisville, Syracuse and UCLA.

“I felt (Arizona’s) Lute Olson would be a great coach for me,” he said. “He’ll help bring out the best in my game.”

Arizona, ranked No. 1 in the nation at the end of the regular season, lost in the NCAA West Regional semifinals to Nevada-Las Vegas.


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