Jarnell Stokes learning his role

Jarnell Stokes

Jarnell Stokes

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Jarnell Stokes admits he was playing on adrenaline when he first arrived at Tennessee, scoring in double figures in three of his first five games.

Now, the 18-year-old, mid-term freshman enrollee is trying to play with more smarts.

"I felt like I was involved the whole game, but it's not just about scoring the points," said Stokes, who had seven points and seven rebounds in the Vols' 73-64 win at South Carolina on Saturday night.

Stokes' effort followed up on consecutive eight-point, eight-rebound outings in games with Alabama (62-50 loss, Feb. 18) and Ole Miss (73-60 win, last Wednesday).

While those numbers might not be staggering, UT coach Cuonzo Martin is impressed with Stokes’ progress and abilities as the Vols (16-13, 8-6 SEC) prepare to play at LSU (17-11, 7-7) at 9 p.m. Wednesday (TV: CSS).

"Jarnell has a good pace to his game; he doesn't rush, he does a good job reading the defense, and for his size, he has good footwork and quickness," Martin said. "You're asking a kid that should still be in high school kid to come in and play at the SEC level against great competition without a preseason or the 14 games before league play."

The wrist injury Stokes suffered in a Feb. 7 prac

tice appears to still be having an effect on his jump shooting, though Stokes continues to downplay its significance.

"I haven't worn a brace the last two games — I've decided I'm going to get away from that," the 6-foot-8, 270-pound Stokes said. "It still hurts, but it's something I've got to play through."

Stokes said he's found his place in the system, whereas before he was trying to do everything, all of the time, and not necessarily executing as well as needed.

"I think I can do a better job scoring the ball," Stokes said. "I'm also missing a lot of small things in my game that I can fix, but I'm in the best shape of my life, and I've bought into more things defensively that I wasn't doing as well earlier this season.

"I'm just playing more of a role."

Martin is proud of how the team has taken in the freshman newcomer, and how Stokes has continued to grow.

"I think Jarnell is doing a great job, because you're talking about a guy who is doing all of this on the fly," Martin said. "When he came into the fold, our practices weren't as taxing, so a lot of things we had done consistently in the practices leading up to the season, Jarnell was getting bits and pieces.

"He's learning a lot in game situations."

Fan Support: UT coach Cuonzo Martin opened his postgame news conference by giving credit to the hundreds of orange-clad Vols fans who attended the game.

"First off, I'd like to thank our fans," Martin said. "They showed up and did a tremendous job supporting us. That was great to see and gave us great energy and gave our guys enthusiasm, and that was good for us to feed off. That was great for us and our program."

The Vols, who rank sixth in the nation in home attendance, averaging 17,114, are hoping to pass Wisconsin and get back into the country's top five.

The Badgers are averaging 17,175 per home game at the 17,230-seat Kohl Center with home games remaining against Minnesota on Tuesday and Illinois on Saturday.

If Wisconsin sells out its final two home games — a distinct possibility against border-state rival schools — the Badgers would finish averaging 17,181.

In that scenario, UT would need to draw approximately 18,300 fans to finish in the top five in home attendance for a seventh consecutive season.

Orange Slices: It was the third game this season that the Vols didn't trail (UNC Greensboro, Nov. 11, The Citadel, Dec. 29). ... Trae Golden scored 20 points or more for the fifth game of the season and for the first time since playing at Mississippi State (Jan. 12). ... Jordan McRae has scored in double figures in four of the past five games and is averaging 12.8 points per game in that span. ... The Vols are 3-1 with their current starting lineup.

Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32

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Comments » 22

eduardo writes:

Stokes will flat out dominate the conference next yr. I hope he pushes the kitty kats around and makes them like it!

FanNotSheep writes:

Seems like his head is in the right place. Lots of guys who starred in high school and come into what was then a mediocre team might have expected everything to be given to them. Not Stokes. I don't know whether he will be a superstar or not but he will help his team. I'll take that kind of player over a hotshot head case any day.

ChrisUTvol writes:

GO VOLS!!!!!

PHAT_VOL writes:

Stokes is a pro player I hope he stays another 3 years. But you cant blame him if he dosen't.
GO VOLS

wigmeister writes:

Great kid. Has a lot to learn to get him to the next level. Maymon is a beast. A good teacher for Stokes on giving everything every game. He will become a force in the SEC. I hope CCM can continue to bring in good players. Things are looking up, I believe, for UT BBall team.

richvol writes:

I can't wait to see this young giant come into his own. With his body and skill he could absolutely dominate the paint against any opponent. All he needs is a year in the weight room and some specific coaching to gain his confidence.

I would like to see UT send him to a big man camp run by a former NBA star that can teach him. The sky is the limit with this kid. He and Maymon playing together will be a sight to see next year.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to FanNotSheep:

Seems like his head is in the right place. Lots of guys who starred in high school and come into what was then a mediocre team might have expected everything to be given to them. Not Stokes. I don't know whether he will be a superstar or not but he will help his team. I'll take that kind of player over a hotshot head case any day.

Good point. Sounds like you are describing Da'Rick Rodgers. Since we don't have any football threads I'll ask here. Anyone out there know what's going on with Da'Rick. I'm hearing he's missed a week of winter camp and missed classes as well. Heard there isn't any injury or illness involved. Heard there has been some beef between he and the strength coach because Da'Rick wants to come and go as he wishes, along with having his little attitude with the S&C coach. Perhaps it's rumors, but with this guy I doubt so. You don't get the benefit of the doubt when you are a repeat offender. Someone said they asked a friend (a player on the team) what is going on with Da'Rick, and dude laughed before saying "Da'Rick is the boss around here." Just thought I would throw that out there and see if anyone knows. Personally I think he should have been off the team last yr. But what do I know?

writer#358485 writes:

Stokes certainly seems to have the makings of a great one, including attitude, and he has the right coach to make that possible. As far as Rogers is concerned, I think virtually everyone on this board knows exactly as much about the situation as I do, which is nil, nada, nothing. Fortunately we have excellent coaches to deal with these things.

CroKev writes:

I just hope the Memphis HS talent is taking notice of how Stokes is learning the game of basketball under Coach Martin and the pipeline from that area starts to flow once again...

SouthPaVol writes:

in response to richvol:

I can't wait to see this young giant come into his own. With his body and skill he could absolutely dominate the paint against any opponent. All he needs is a year in the weight room and some specific coaching to gain his confidence.

I would like to see UT send him to a big man camp run by a former NBA star that can teach him. The sky is the limit with this kid. He and Maymon playing together will be a sight to see next year.

Good points: weight room; big man camp; good coaching. The last point I like best: Stokes and Maymon will dominate next year and will be one of the top returning inside pair in CBB next year.

If we add solid point guard play and less turnovers, we improve on our pre-season top 25 status (a lock). Golden is catching on at PG and can score the ball, but still only a sophomore. My bet is he keeps improving at PG.

McRae is looking like he is buying into our system, and the guy can already score the ball in double figures. His rebounds are up, assists are up; very promising.

McBee is starting to put the ball on the floor (just a little bit) and kicking out to set shooters--what he has been the recipient of for 3 years. Would be great if he can give assists to match his shooting.

All this adds up to an exciting season next year, not counting new CCM recruits. We will win often next year, but this season is not quite over. We have a few more waves to make. GO VOLS!

SouthPaVol writes:

in response to CroKev:

I just hope the Memphis HS talent is taking notice of how Stokes is learning the game of basketball under Coach Martin and the pipeline from that area starts to flow once again...

Memphis has 600,000 people and about half play basketball. I think we get our fair share of 4-5* recruits out of the Miss Valley region, no matter if their coach drops UT from the schedule. If we don't play Memphis, we play Arkansas in Memphis. Except, that might backfire. AR wants their share of the Memphis market as well--and recruit against us--so it would be nice if we were NOT advancing our competition in the process.

murrayvol writes:

Stokes has a lot to learn and to his credit he knows it. Really looking forward to watching him after an offseason of conditioning and a full practice regimen.

The Vols have a chance to compete for a conference championship next year.

thevoice writes:

in response to SouthPaVol:

Good points: weight room; big man camp; good coaching. The last point I like best: Stokes and Maymon will dominate next year and will be one of the top returning inside pair in CBB next year.

If we add solid point guard play and less turnovers, we improve on our pre-season top 25 status (a lock). Golden is catching on at PG and can score the ball, but still only a sophomore. My bet is he keeps improving at PG.

McRae is looking like he is buying into our system, and the guy can already score the ball in double figures. His rebounds are up, assists are up; very promising.

McBee is starting to put the ball on the floor (just a little bit) and kicking out to set shooters--what he has been the recipient of for 3 years. Would be great if he can give assists to match his shooting.

All this adds up to an exciting season next year, not counting new CCM recruits. We will win often next year, but this season is not quite over. We have a few more waves to make. GO VOLS!

Good post. I think you hit on everything exciting about these Vols. I'm really impressed with Golden's advancement and rack attacks, just need fewer turnovers. Didn't we have 20+ in the last game? Think if we just had <12! It seems like EVERY player on this team has improved. I think that's due to Martin. I'm very happy with Martin and I especially like the way he runs things... with class and integrity. I think that will spill over into the type of players he recruits (Stokes, etc.). I'll admit, his interviews put me to sleep, but the guy can coach!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to writer#358485:

Stokes certainly seems to have the makings of a great one, including attitude, and he has the right coach to make that possible. As far as Rogers is concerned, I think virtually everyone on this board knows exactly as much about the situation as I do, which is nil, nada, nothing. Fortunately we have excellent coaches to deal with these things.

Thanks for the Roger's response. I'd hate to see this board become just a gossip column.lol I'm not crazy about seeing kids become "head cases" but they are kids and just don't need to be talked about like that on here or any where.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Stokes is AWESOME!! Not a god but a good kid.

wigmeister writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Good point. Sounds like you are describing Da'Rick Rodgers. Since we don't have any football threads I'll ask here. Anyone out there know what's going on with Da'Rick. I'm hearing he's missed a week of winter camp and missed classes as well. Heard there isn't any injury or illness involved. Heard there has been some beef between he and the strength coach because Da'Rick wants to come and go as he wishes, along with having his little attitude with the S&C coach. Perhaps it's rumors, but with this guy I doubt so. You don't get the benefit of the doubt when you are a repeat offender. Someone said they asked a friend (a player on the team) what is going on with Da'Rick, and dude laughed before saying "Da'Rick is the boss around here." Just thought I would throw that out there and see if anyone knows. Personally I think he should have been off the team last yr. But what do I know?

It seems DaRick has gotten away with some bull---. NO player is bigger than the team. Time for some serious discipline. All of this started last season. He may have talent, but there others just as talented!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to RockyTopRenegade:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

why not some demi god or somethin'? How about Hercules? Well.
To me he looks like a musclebound version of Jamie Foxx...talent piano player and actor.

johnlg00 writes:

Good comments here about a fine young man who will be a dominant player next year. To be so young, he doesn't really seem to have any bad habits. He seems to have a sound foundation in fundamentals, surely a credit to the coaching he received before he came to UT. The two skill improvements that will help him the most for next year are learning to pass quicker and more decisively out of double-teams and improving his free-throw shooting. He won't face many opponents next year who can handle him one-on-one, so he WILL be double-teamed. The more he handles the ball inside, the more he will be fouled. If he can get some work with the perimeter players on the sequence of "pass in, pass out, repost, pass in, relocate", he will get better shots in the post and the perimeter players will get better shots when he passes it back out. I can't wait to see how he develops over the off-season.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to writer#358485:

Stokes certainly seems to have the makings of a great one, including attitude, and he has the right coach to make that possible. As far as Rogers is concerned, I think virtually everyone on this board knows exactly as much about the situation as I do, which is nil, nada, nothing. Fortunately we have excellent coaches to deal with these things.

Yeah, okay. I just had a dream about it all and decided to come on here and start a rumor about a dream I had.... NOT! Look, I just heard it and wondered if anyone knew anything about it. And obviously someone knew something about it or else you wouldn't have been commenting about it. I'll just ask you, if the coaches are so great, why are they letting Da'Rick do whatever he wants?

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

Thanks for the Roger's response. I'd hate to see this board become just a gossip column.lol I'm not crazy about seeing kids become "head cases" but they are kids and just don't need to be talked about like that on here or any where.

Blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah blah blah.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah blah blah.

Uhh could you repeat that ? I didn't quite catch your point gossipper. Gossipmonger. gossipperous. gossipocious. gossippotent. gossiperenting.
never mind. Gossip about kids if you want it's a free site.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

Uhh could you repeat that ? I didn't quite catch your point gossipper. Gossipmonger. gossipperous. gossipocious. gossippotent. gossiperenting.
never mind. Gossip about kids if you want it's a free site.

Since when are facts gossip? You called me 6 names, then refered to someone else as a kid.

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