Courtesy of Ron Stokes
To play basketball at former Ohio State men’s basketball player Ron Stokes’ home in Gahanna, Ohio, you have to abide by four rules.
“You got to play hard, and you got to play smart, and you got to be coachable … and you have to play defense,” said the former OSU guard and current radio color analyst for the Buckeyes men’s basketball team.
Those rules not only shaped the way Stokes played the game at OSU, from 1981-1985, they’ve also molded another player with the same last name.
His daughter, redshirt junior guard Amber Stokes, is carrying on the family legacy.
“It’s a good advantage to have a dad that knows the game and been in my shoes,” said Amber Stokes, the second of Ron and Lavita Stokes’ four children.
For 15 years, her father has commentated on the flagship station for OSU men’s basketball games, which has proven to be an invaluable tool for the younger Stokes.
“It’s nice because some people don’t have dads who understand the game,” said Amber Stokes. “My dad understands the game, and he’s able to give me advice.”
It might benefit Amber, but being a college basketball analyst who’s watching his daughter play can be a trying experience.
“I find myself not even enjoying the game because I’m looking at every single thing because that’s what I do for a living,” Ron Stokes said. “It’s tough turning it off from being an analyst.”
Along with announcing every OSU men’s game and attending Amber Stokes’ games when possible, Ron also owns one of the top 50 fastest growing privately held businesses in central Ohio, according to Business First Magazine. He serves as president and CEO of Three Leaf Productions, a media management company with customers including WOW, Kroger and SafeAuto Insurance. His schedule also includes a weekly radio show with OSU coach Thad Matta, maintaining a blog at ronstokesfastbreak.com, and trying to attend his two younger children’s basketball games.
“It’s nuts,” Ron Stokes said. “I’m committed to basketball every night.”
That commitment to hard work and basketball is mirrored in Amber Stokes, who has already completed her undergraduate degree in criminology. The younger Stokes was also elected co-captain her junior season, a feat her father accomplished as well. Even members of the OSU athletic community see the similarities in the way they play.
Denny Hoobler, associate athletics director for development and ticketing at OSU, has watched both family members. He said he remembers seeing Ron Stokes while he was a guard at Canton Mckinley High School and at OSU.
He said when he watches Amber Stokes play, he has a déjà vu-like experience.
“It’s watching Ronnie Stokes all over again,” Hoobler said. “Just her intensity and defense.”
Although her father has influenced her style of play, the same can’t be said for her decision to become a Buckeye.
Before attending OSU, Amber Stokes had scholarship offers from a majority of Big Ten and Atlantic Coast Conference programs, but she said her father never told her to pick the Scarlet and Gray.
“He told me wherever I choose to go to, he would support me,” said Amber Stokes, who believes her father wanted her to come to OSU but wouldn’t voice it.
Based on the proximity and OSU’s program, Ron Stokes said he wanted his daughter to stay in Columbus, but he wouldn’t feel right if she picked a university because he played there.
“Even if it was another school, if I told her to go to that school and she went there because mainly I wanted her to go, and she didn’t have a great experience, I wouldn’t feel right as a father,” Ron Stokes said.
In the end, Amber Stokes chose OSU because of its tradition and the atmosphere, she said. Her decision has helped her team achieve the No. 8 spot in the nation this year, and a shot at the National Championship.
Although she and her father have enjoyed success on the court, she said she doesn’t plan on following him into the broadcast booth.
“No, I don’t think that’s me,” Amber Stokes said. “Let my dad do that job.”