The gold may have been slightly bittersweet for Florida coach Billy Donovan.
Having led the United States U18 National Team on a five-game men's basketball romp to the top of the medal stand in the 2012 FIBA Americas Championships, Donovan caught a firsthand glimpse of what could have been.
When Jarnell Stokes was a high school star in Memphis, Florida made every effort to court the imposing power forward to Gainesville. He chose Tennessee instead, enrolled after the 2011-12 first semester and immediately blossomed.
As a Vol, Stokes only faced Donovan and the Gators once, playing a season-low 11 minutes in a UT upset victory at Florida.
At the FIBA Championships, however, where Stokes averaged 14.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and shot 68.9 percent in 20.2 minutes per game, Donovan saw more than enough.
"He's too good when he gets set up inside — very difficult to handle," Donovan said by phone Thursday from Brazil. "There was no one guy down there who could match up to him physically. He just overwhelmed other teams' frontcourts, even when he was up against guys who were taller with more length. He could remove them from plays with his strength."
The 6-foot-8, 250-pound Stokes scored 11 points and pulled down four rebounds in Wednesday night's gold-medal victory against host Brazil. He started each game as the Americans went 5-0 and won by an average of 38.6 points per game.
Stokes led the U.S. team with 13 offensive rebounds and limited his mistakes. He registered just six fouls and five turnovers in 101 minutes of action.
On a team comprised entirely of high school players, Donovan said Stokes took on a leadership role. The lone semester of SEC play proved valuable.
"There was a better understanding of everything," Donovan said. "He's been through different things and he's probably a little further advanced."
What stood out the most to Donovan, though, is that Stokes is getting better. There's still space for a few steps forward.
"He did what he did in the tournament and, I'm not being critical, but he could have had even more of an impact, if you can believe that," the two-time NCAA championship coach said. "He could have scored and rebounded even more. When he gets in even better shape physically, he'll be able to get more involved in transition and get set up down there."
As a No. 7 seed in last season's NCAA tournament, Florida made a surprise run to the Elite Eight. From that team, Donovan returns a frontcourt featuring Patric Young, Erik Murphy and Will Yeguete. It might be the only group of big men in the SEC comparable to Tennessee's trio of Stokes, Jeronne Maymon and Kenny Hall.
Donovan said Stokes is the difference, calling him, "One of the best frontcourt players in the country, without a doubt."
Having fallen to the Vols twice in the 2011-12 regular season, that's not a comforting thought for the Florida coach.
"You look at what Tennessee has returning and then add (Stokes) after one year in the system and they may be the best team in our league and maybe one of the best in the country," Donovan said. "A lot of that starts with Jarnell."