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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thoughts on Jarnell Stokes vs UNC-Asheville

Tackling the second game of this long day of basketball, the Vols played UNC-Asheville and held a steady lead most of the game en route to winning 75-68. Without Jerrone Maymon, the Vols went with a balanced attack with 5 players scoring between 12 and 14 points. The most impressive of those players is the 18 year SOPHOMORE Jarnell Stokes.

Stokes stands at 6'9'' in shoes, but has a huge 270 pound frame and a 7'1'' wingspan to make up for his height. He is your typical undersized power forward prospect in a lot of ways, but at only 18 years old, has plenty of time to improve his game. He already has a lot of natural tools to work with, starting with his big and strong hands that allow him to be an outstanding rebounder. Once Stokes gets his hands on a ball, it is his. His hands help him in the same way on the offensive end.

Stokes also understands his limitations and strengths and chooses to operate primarily from the post. He works hard to get excellent position and shows good footwork after getting the ball. He plays a physical brand of basketball.He isn't fancy in the paint, but understands how to use his pivot and displays good body control and solid enough creativity to finish in traffic.

He took 15 shots today, making 8. Like most undersized power forward prospects, Stokes shoots very well from the field and pulls down a monster amount of rebounds. I actually thought Tennessee should have featured Stokes more today as everytime they did feed it to him, he was able to get a high percentage shot.

At only 18, Stokes has plenty of time to work on things to separate himself from other undersized power fowards. We can start at the free throw line where he only shot 57% last season. Building off that, Stokes needs to show he is comfortable facing the rim by stepping out and hitting some jumpers. In the NBA, he will need to do that with regularity.

He also needs to make himself a better target coming off pick and rolls. Tennessee isn't the biggest pick and roll team there is, but he should get an occasion bucket rolling to the rim.

Defensively, Stokes isn't a rim protector and never will be. He moves his feet well though, and may be able to cover some small forwards if he loses some weight.

Right now Stokes would likely find himself in the early second round area if he declared after this season. For a guy like him, he needs to make sure every part of his game is fine tuned before taking his talents to the next level. For him, that means his free throwing shooting and mid-range jumper. The amount of tough effort he displays on the court and the fact that he was an honor student in high school makes me think he will work hard to make sure he improves. At only 18, he has plenty of time.

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