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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Where are they now? Greg Stokes

Greg Stokes played center/forward for the Iowa Hawkeyes from 1981 to 1985 for Lute Olsen and George Raveling. In his sophomore season of 1982-83, the last for Coach Olsen at Iowa, Stokes led the Hawkeyes in scoring with 17.7 points per game. He, along with “Twin Tower” Michael Payne, and senior guard Bobby Hansen led Iowa to a tie for 2nd place in the Big Ten with a 10-8 conference record. The Hawkeyes advanced to the NCAA Tournament and eventually were knocked out in the Sweet 16 by Villanova, 55-54. During his senior campaign, Stokes averaged 19.9 points per game and led Iowa to a 21-11 overall record and another berth to the NCAA Tournament.

Stokes ended his career as Iowa’s all-time leader in points scored and is still ranked 3rd all-time with 1,768 points scored in his career. Only Roy Marble (2,116) and Acie Earl (1,779) have scored more points as Hawkeyes than Greg Stokes. He also ranks 8th all-time in school history with 807 career rebounds.

After the conclusion of his college career, Greg Stokes was drafted in the 2nd round of the 1985 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. Stokes played in 31 games his rookie season for the 76ers averaging 4.1 points per game. After a few years playing professionally overseas, Stokes played one more season in the NBA for the Sacramento Kings in 1989-90.

Greg Stokes currently resides in Marion and works for Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids as the assistant men’s basketball coach as well as a program manager for the school.

Hawkeye Sports News recently visited with legendary Hawkeye Greg Stokes and asked him about his playing days at Iowa as well as his thoughts on the future of Iowa basketball. Here is a copy of the full transcript from our exclusive interview with Greg Stokes:

Hawkeye Sports News: What is the favorite memory you have from your playing days with Iowa?

Greg Stokes: My favorite memory by far from my Hawkeye days is when I broke the all -time scoring record at Iowa and they stopped the game and had my grandmother (who raised me from a little guy) come out onto the floor of Carver to help me celebrate the accomplishment. I will never, ever forget that moment. My grandmother and I were very, very close.

HSN: Where did you play basketball professionally after college and for how long?

GS: After Iowa, I was drafted in the 2nd round to the Philadelphia 76ers. I played 1 year with the Sixers who had at that time Dr. J (Julius Erving) my childhood idol. After Philly, I went overseas to play in the top Italian pro league for a team in Bologna. I was in bologna for two years before I decided to come back to the states. I tried out with several NBA teams and eventually ended up in Sacramento playing for the Kings. After a season with the Kings I went back to Europe (Spain, Italy) and eventually ended up playing in Australia with my good friend and other half of the "Twin Towers". Due to knee problems I decided to end my pro career in ‘92 when my son Darius was born.

HSN: How did your experiences at Iowa help prepare you for life after basketball?

GS: I would say that my experience at Iowa prepared me for life after basketball primarily by exposing me to a completely different environment. Having grown up in a predominantly black neighborhood and then coming here to Iowa, I was exposed to a completely different way of life. I didn’t have a lot of exposure to white people in general and to come to Iowa where the majority of the population is white, I think helped me immensely. It basically forced me to be more open minded to people who were different from myself and more tolerant of people that come from different backgrounds than the one that I came from. The people here in Iowa have been wonderful. Some of my best friends in the world are from Iowa. This experience has allowed me to appreciate the differences in people no matter where they come from. Having played all over the world, this has been invaluable.

HSN: Where are you currently residing and what is your current occupation?

GS: Currently I live in Marion. (Linn Mar school dist.) I am a program manager and asst. men's basketball coach for Kirkwood Community college. I am in charge of several areas of programming for adult education. Have been at Kirkwood now for 10 years. I am also in charge of a youth leadership program in which Kirkwood and the Univ. of Iowa Children's Hospital co-sponsor called Win With Wellness. I have two teenage children Darius (16) and Kiah (15). Both are great students and tremendous athletes in their own rights. I spend a lot of my spare time following those two around for their sporting events. Every now and then I get a break from chasing them around and try to relax by doing a little hunting, fishing and playing golf, which are more things I enjoy as a result of living here in Iowa.

HSN: How closely do you still follow the Hawkeyes and what are your feelings of the team's future?

GS: I still follow the Hawks as closely as I can. Kirkwood is usually playing on the same days but I try to catch them on TV as much as possible. As far as their future, I think they'll be fine. I have met coach Lickliter and think that once he gets a couple of years under his belt, good things will happen for the Hawks. He's a wonderful coach, and I have no doubt that he'll get the guys to lay in on the line every night not only for him but for each other. I don’t think that happened with the previous staff. Best of luck to Coach Lickliter.