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April 27, 2013

Stokes talks return to the Vols

Junior to be Jarnell Stokes admitted Saturday that if had made his decision in late March, it would not have been to return to school. But after taking the emotions out of the process, Stokes has decided to return for his junior at Tennessee.

"If I had made an emotional decision right after the season, I would have gone ahead and left," Stokes said. "I sat down with coach and talked to some people that I trust. I talked to Tobias and he told me that I was a first round talent and that I shouldn't settle for the second round. That spoke to me a lot. We have been playing open gym and Jerrone played for the first time yesterday. I was amazed that he can move and take over games like he used to. I think that will help with the double teams that we had last year."

Stokes said that head coach Cuonzo Martin, who's on the road recruiting this week, left him to make his own decision, but Stokes said the two did talk a great deal about next year and the opportunities the team has. The Memphis native said that he was projected to go anywhere from the middle of the second round to free agency. He said he feels confidence in his skills, but the risk didn't really outweigh the reward.

"I just looked over some things. I prayed about it. I talked to my dad and some other people I trust. I just think the best decision for me was to stay," Stokes said. "Many people consider me a second rounder. I was willing to go into workouts and work my way up, but I don't want to risk my whole career over 10-15 workouts. That was part of my decision."

In his NBA evaluation, Stokes said many questioned his ability to score away from the basket. Something he took offense to and something he said he had to have the confidence to show next season.

"I have to have the confidence to do things. Go through this process guys said I couldn't shoot. I know I can shoot. Last year, I didn't show it. It's something I have to show this year. You learn through this process. They only believe what they see and not what they hear. You have to show what you can do. I did what I needed to for the team. I had to bang down low and rebound."

Stokes visited the season with 16 double-doubles averaging 13 points and nearly 11 rebounds in SEC play. Now, Stokes' focus is on his game and a team that he feels should be a lock for the NCAA tournament. An idea that Stokes admits he didn't think would be his focus at this point in his life.

"No way," Stokes said when asked if he ever thought he would be a 3 year college player. "Every kids dream is to be one and done. There have been a lot good players who have stayed. Being a junior sounds so old, but I'm only 19 and I have a long career ahead of me."

A career that will be in orange for another season.


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