Jan 29, 2013; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers forward Jarnell Stokes (5) is guarded by Vanderbilt Commodores center Josh Henderson (40) during the second half at Thompson-Boling Arena. Tennessee won 58 to 57. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Jarnell Stokes Improving For The Tennessee Volunteers

Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

Jarnell Stokes’ freshmen season last year was a little different then most freshmen seasons. Stokes came to Tennessee after graduating high school a semester early.  Being ineligible to play during his senior season of high school led to him coming to Knoxville a little early.  Many expected that Stokes would be making a brief stop in Knoxville, but the number one player in the state of Tennessee had to return for his senior season, because NBA rules state you have to be at least 19 years of age to enter the draft.

Stokes, was a five star recruit coming out of high school in Memphis, TN.  Being the 11th rated player in the nation brought Stokes plenty of notable offers from schools such as UConn, Florida, Kentucky, and his hometown school Memphis.

Stokes chose to attend Tennessee, and became head coach Cuonzo Martin’s first five star recruit.  He made his debut against Kentucky on January 14th, 2012.  Stokes played well during his freshmen season, scoring a season high 18 points against LSU. He wound up averaging 9.6 points and 7.4 rebounds a game.  Not bad for someone that was supposed to still be playing at the high school level.

Expectations were high for Stokes coming into the 2012-13 season, considering it would be his first full season. The sophomore forward struggled to find consistency early in the season.  He had a great game against UMass, posting a line of 24 points and 12 rebounds.  Shortly after he went on to score single digits in three straight games, including a four point performance in an ugly 37-36 loss to Georgetown.  Stokes also had a particularly bad game against Kentucky, in which he fouled out and scored only four points.

Since the loss against Kentucky, Stokes has really stepped up.  Except for a game against Ole Miss, he’s had a double-double in every game since.  Stokes has also shot extremely well from the field, making 65% of his shots since the Kentucky game. Last week Stokes was named SEC player of the week.

The Volunteers need Stokes playing to his full potential to close the season out strong, especially with games at home against Kentucky and Florida looming on the schedule.

Jarnell Stokes’ intensity and level of play has improved greatly over the last few weeks.  The sky is the limit for this young man and although it’s unlikely, Vol fans are certainly hoping he sticks around Knoxville one more year.

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