IOWA CITY, Iowa - Darius Stokes was summoned to Coach Fran McCaffery's office. The walk-on forward from Marion figured they'd talk about expectations for him during the 2013-14 season.
"I walked in and all of the coaching staff was in there," Stokes said.
Stokes realized a childhood dream when he walked on at Iowa three years ago. The Hawkeye legacy has worked hard behind the scenes to make himself and his teammates better. He did find it a bit odd that all of the Iowa coaches were in McCaffery's office when he arrived.
"(McCaffery) said right away that they had been talking about this for awhile and they all felt that i deserved a scholarship for this year," the 6-foot-7, 203-pound redshirt junior said. "It's a dream come true. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity.
"To see how far I have come, how hard i have worked, and to earn a scholarship, it's an amazing feeling. I look forward to continued improvement and the challenges ahead."
A scholarship opened up when Patrick Ingram left the program for IUPUI in the offseason. McCaffery searched for a possible transfer this spring and summer but settled on rewarding the son of former Hawkeye great, Greg Stokes.
"(McCaffery said that) they appreciate the effort that I have given everyday in practice and the fact that I have continued to improve every year since i have been here," Stokes said. "When I told my dad, he was extremely happy and proud of me. He knows how much work I have put in and to see his son reach his dream is a great feeling."
Said McCaffery in a statement: “Darius is an incredibly hard worker who brings energy and enthusiasm on a daily basis. It’s rewarding to see his growth and improvement since his freshman year. Darius is a valuable member of this team and has earned this scholarship.”
Stokes played 38 minutes over 12 games in '12-13. He averaged 1.25 rebounds per contest. Not bad for a guy with very little recruiting interest coming out of Marion (Iowa) Linn-Mar High.
"I didn't have a lot of options and Coach McCaffery gave me an opportunity," Stokes said. "The first time I met with him he said I had a lot of potential. It has always been a goal of mine to earn a scholarship and that pushed me to get better everyday."
Stokes has added 25 pounds since arriving at Iowa.
"I would say the part of my game that has improved the most is my mindset," he said. "When I first came here I didn't really know what to expect. I see the game differently now. I know where i can be effective using my athleticism."
As Stokes said, the scholarship is for the upcoming season. Iowa has four available scholarships to fill in the 2014. If one is left over, Stokes could potentially earn a second year but it's not something with which he's not concerned.
"I plan to graduate in the spring so as of the right now the scholarship is for one year," Stokes said. "I haven't decided on grad school yet or where i want to do that so we'll have to see at the end of the year."