April 27, 2013
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Jarnell Stokes announced on Saturday his intentions to return to Tennessee for his junior season. The power forward from Memphis, Tenn., had explored the possibility of entering this summer's NBA Draft and had requested an evaluation from the NBA's Undergraduate Advisory Committee.
"After considering entering the NBA Draft, I have decided to return to Tennessee for my junior season," Stokes said. "After talking with my family I have decided to come back and I am excited to return to the Vols. I am looking forward to playing with Jeronne (Maymon), Jordan (McRae), Trae (Golden) and my other teammates again. I think we are ready for a big season, one that will make Vol Nation proud."
The 6-8, 270-pound Stokes earned second-team All-SEC honors after a season in which he was one of only four players from a "major" conference - and the only player from the SEC - to average a double-double in league play (13.1 ppg, 10.7 rpg).
"I am excited that Jarnell is returning for his junior season," Martin said. "I thought he had a great sophomore campaign. He did a tremendous job of improving throughout the season. He did a great job in terms of offensive rebounding. This is very exciting news for our team and the entire Tennessee family."
Stokes started all 33 of Tennessee's games and finished the season as UT's leader in total rebounding (9.6 rpg), offensive rebounding (4.2 orpg), free-throw attempts (194) and blocks (1.1 bpg). He grabbed at least 10 rebounds in 18 games and scored in double-figures 22 times.
His 138 offensive rebounds and 4.2 offensive rebounding average both stand as the best by a Vol in a single season since offensive rebounding statistics have been tracked. His 4.2 offensive rebounds per game ranked third among all players in Division I college basketball.
Stokes' 16 double-doubles were the most among SEC players and marked the most by a Vol in a season since Hall of Famer Bernard King had 19 in 1976-77.
Rising senior wing Jordan McRae announced earlier this month that he would be returning to UT for the 2013-14 season. With Stokes joining him on next year's roster, Tennessee appears set to return 83.7 percent of its scoring and 86.3 percent of its rebounding from a season ago. In addition, forward Jeronne Maymon - a second-team All-SEC performer in 2012 who redshirted in 2013 - will be a fifth-year senior next year.
(On biggest role in decision) "I just looked over things, prayed about it, talked to my dad and some people I trust. I just think the best decision is to stay. I know a lot of people considered me a second rounder and I was willing to go into workouts and work my way up. I don't want to risk my entire career on ten or fifteen workouts. That was probably my decision."
(On coming in with plans of leaving early) "No way. You know every kid's dream is to be considered one-and-done or whatever, but it's been a lot of good players that stayed. Being called a junior sounds so old, you know I'm only nineteen. I got a long career ahead of me."
(On classification impacted choice) "You know I found out a lot of people didn't consider me to be nineteen, so that was another advantage going into it. A lot of people felt I was twenty and going into my junior year, but it really didn't play a big factor. I just come out when I'm ready."
(On when decision was reached) "I've really been going back and forth. If I made an emotional decision after the season, I would have went ahead and left. That was my plan, but I met with coach and talked to some people I trust; somebody like Tobias (Harris) told me I'm a first round talent so don't settle for second round. You know that spoke a lot and we've been playing open gym. Jeronne (Maymon) played for the first time yesterday, and I was amazed. He can still move and take over the game like he use to, so I think that will relieve a lot of double-team problems we had this year."
(On impact of incoming team) "Yeah, most definitely. When you win then everyone eats, so it's a lot of good players out there but they're on losing teams. It sort of overshadows them, but having recruits coming in and Jeronne coming back, I think that will relieve a lot of double-teams. Last year that was one of my struggles being able to adapt to certain defensive plans. You know that's just something I have to work on, but hopefully next year I won't have to go through that. "
(On what he needs to improve on over the summer) "I just have to have the confidence to do things. Going through this process, guys have told me, `Jarnell, you can't shoot'. But myself, I know I can shoot because I've been doing it all my life. Last year, I didn't show it. That's just something I'll have to look to show next year".
"You learn through this process that they only believe what they see, and not what they hear. So basically, you have to show what you can do. I did what I had to do for the team, banging down low and being a rebounding presence".
(On if you feel like you and the team have something else to prove next season) "No one wants to end in the NIT after two straight years. We were so close. I feel like this coming year there shouldn't be a question whether or not we get in the tournament. Me and Jeronne (Maymon) should be one of the best front courts in the nation. We have to go out there and prove that".
(On if people have had negative reactions on Twitter to his play) "No, I don't think so. I haven't seen any one say that. But I don't know about living up to the hype. I think when you win, everyone loves you. So that will take care of itself".
(On what kind of feedback you were expecting from the NBA) "I knew they were pretty much saying 2nd round (of the draft). They said I could go anywhere in the 2nd round. I was confident in my decision. I was planning on leaving because guys saying I can't shoot. Well I know I can shoot. Guys saying you are short. Well I have a 7'2 wingspan. But I just have to work on other things. I was confident going into workouts to show that. But at the end of the day when you have to sign those papers and send them in, you don't want to risk your whole career on a couple workouts".
(On Coach Martin through this process)
"He pretty much let me make the decision. He was there for me whenever I needed to talk. We talked about some things coming up the season, too. You know like how good of a team we will be and how I won't be getting double teamed as much with Robert Hubbs coming in and with Jeronne coming back. So I think next year will be a pretty good year".