- The Washington Times - Friday, March 14, 2003

Glenn Stokes wondered if his time would ever come.
While childhood buddies Steve Francis, Jason Miskiri and Darren McLinton became college basketball stars, Stokes went to work. The 5-foot-7 point guard, who was not recruited out of Einstein High School, wound up checking out customers, bagging groceries and restocking produce shelves at a Montgomery County supermarket.
"The hardest thing was not knowing if I was going to play," Stokes said. "I knew I should be in school playing."
The left-hander with NBA shooting range finally got his chance and now, at 26, plans to end his senior season by leading American University into its first NCAA tournament. The Eagles (16-13) face Patriot League regular-season champion Holy Cross (25-4) today in Worcester, Mass., with an automatic NCAA bid at stake.
"It means more than [just] a championship game to me," said Stokes, a second-team all-league selection who averaged 15.4 points and made 42 percent of his 3-point shots. "I have worked all my life to get here."
It is a testament to Stokes' perseverance that he is even in college, much less on schedule to get a business degree in the fall. After graduating from Einstein, he planned to go to prep school and then pursue a college basketball scholarship. When that didn't pan out, he put his hoop dreams pretty much on hold, though he played pickup ball against the area's top players, often at Takoma Park Community Center.
"We'd start at about 8 or 9 at night, and run until about 2 in the morning," Stokes said.
It was three years before Stokes took the step that changed his life. He approached Dachia Pinkard, Outreach Manager at the Takoma Park facility who also helps students earn scholarships. Pinkard has basketball contacts from when she coached the women's team at Columbia Union College.
"He came in and told me this is what he wanted to do," said Pinkard, who was skeptical. "I told him that image means a lot. He had some kind of twist in his hair. I said, 'You can't have your hair all crazy like that.' The next day, he came in with his hair cut. After that, it happened very fast."
Pinkard got Stokes' academic transcripts in order and made a videotape of him playing against Francis and Miskiri, who were standouts at Maryland and George Mason, respectively. Because of academics, Stokes had to go the junior college route. Coaches were initially hesitant about his height until they saw the tape.
The guard soon got a scholarship to Tallahassee (Fla.) Community College, where he started alongside current St. John's star Marcus Hatten on teams ranked as high as No.1 in the country. Interestingly, Hatten originally committed to American coming out of high school in Baltimore. It was on a trip to Florida to visit Hatten that an AU assistant coach discovered Stokes.
"After seeing him the first time, I recommended him [to Eagles coach Jeff Jones]," said Kevin Broadus, now an assistant at George Washington.
"The second time I saw him, I wasn't sure he was good enough. The third time I went down there, I said, 'We got to take him because he's the best one on the floor, including Hatten.'"
The Eagles landed Stokes despite an offer from mid-major power Southern Illinois and a late push by national power Oklahoma.
"Around tournament time of my last year in junior college, Oklahoma kicked off their point guard," Stokes said.
"They basically felt they needed a mature point guard. But they were trying to offer me something without me coming to visit. Basically, they were bringing [letter of intent] papers to the tournament. But I wasn't going to rush into any situation."
Jones calls Stokes the squad's "old man" who makes the Eagles better because his life's experience provides an invaluable intangible. Teammates see him as a fierce competitor who drives the team.
"Glenn has a wild life story," said Steven Miles, a senior guard who is four years younger. "He's kind of like a father figure, because anything you are going through, he's probably done it twice. You have to respect a guy like that. Most people who start work give up on school and their basketball dream."
Most people.

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