The tick tock of the clock atop Ayers Hall is counting down the minutes until Sunday. Those seconds might not mean much, unless you’re University of Tennessee sophomore Jarnell Stokes.
Sunday is the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the 2013 NBA draft on June 27.
Stokes, who has openly pursued inroads leading to the draft, has yet to announce whether he will return to UT or forego his last two years of eligibility.
Speaking with the News Sentinel late Friday morning, UT coach Cuonzo Martin said he will speak to Stokes on Friday afternoon and expects to learn a final decision.
“I think he probably knows what he wants to do and has probably known for a little while now,” Martin said. “It’s just a matter of when he’ll say it. So we’re getting together with him today to either set up a press conference or see how he wants to proceed with it. He might just want to go under the radar, just go about his business, if he’s not doing anything. If he’s doing something, he’ll probably want a press conference. We’ll talk today to see what he’s decided to do and then we’ll get it squared away.”
Martin said today won’t require a sit-down meeting. The two will speak by telephone before Martin embarks on weekend recruiting trips to Atlanta, Virginia and Mississippi.
Neither NBADraft.net nor DraftExpress.com, two widely used mock draft websites, project Stokes as being selected in the 2013 draft. DraftExpress lists Stokes as a mid-second-round pick in 2014 and ranks him as the 15th-best current college sophomore.
“He’s going to class and doing what he’s supposed to do,” Martin said. “I really think it’s 50-50. Until he says otherwise, that’s what it is from my viewpoint.”
Asked if an announcement should be expected by the end of Friday, Martin countered, “I wouldn’t say that. I think it’s how he wants to present it.”
Stokes was the Vols’ second-leading scorer (12.4 ppg) and leading rebounder (9.6 rpg) last season. He earned All-SEC second-team from both the league’s coaches and the media and notched 13 double-doubles over the season’s final 18 games.
Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at Twitter.com/BFQuinn