Tennessee’s Jarnell Stokes foregoes senior season to enter NBA Draft

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Tennessee junior forward Jarnell Stokes made official the news many expected to hear Friday afternoon, announcing his decision to enter the 2014 NBA Draft. Stokes was a first team All-SEC selection this past season, as he posted averages of 15.1 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.

“First of all, I think Jarnell is going to go down as one of the best big men to ever play at Tennessee – certainly one of the most dominant rebounders ever to wear the orange,” Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin said in the release. “I hope our fans will celebrate his career, because the growth and development he’s shown over the past three years has really been impressive, and I’m proud of the player and man he’s become.”

Of the 87 games in which Stokes played at Tennessee he started 84, and as a junior he posted 22 double-doubles. Stokes failed to reach double figures in scoring just five times this past season, with the last such effort coming in a win over Arkansas on January 22. According to Draft Express, Stokes is projected to be a second round draft pick.

Tennessee loses both Stokes and Jeronne Maymon (graduation) from this year’s Sweet 16 team, with incoming freshmen Phil Cofer and C.J. Turman joining Rawane Ndiaye in Martin’s interior rotation.

Bill Self on Cheick Diallo: ‘It may be a couple of more weeks’

2015 McDonald's All American Game
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Cheick Diallo is currently practicing with Kansas, but his eligibility still remains in question.

On Monday, Kansas head coach Bill Self appeared on “The Border Patrol” on WHB-AM 810 and was asked to update the status of his freshman big man.

“He’s been cleared to practice,” Self told hosts Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty. “(His status) is depending on what they find throughout from the information we submit to them whenever we get it all together.

“A lot of people think, ‘Well, why wouldn’t it all be together?’ Well there’s a lot of reasons why. It’s because they told us recently some things that they just wanted. Instead of just throwing it to them piece by piece, they requested we to just submit it all together, so it may be a couple of more weeks before we’re able to submit everything when you’re talking about getting information from schools in Mali and everything like that.

“But we hope in two weeks, maybe three weeks, before we have a definite answer. But right now, Cheick is like everybody else. He’s practicing.”

Diallo, a 6-foot-9 forward from Mali is allowed to practice with the Jayhawks, but has been waiting to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center despite enrolling in classes over the summer and earning six credits. Self anticipated this would be a long process, but has remained confident Diallo, the top-5 recruit in Class of 2015, will eventually be cleared to play this season.

For three years, Diallo attended Our Savior New American School in Centereach, New York, which is currently under NCAA review. In September, Pitt freshman Damon Wilson, Diallo’s teammate at OSNA, was cleared to play.

Kansas opens the season on Nov. 13 against Northern Colorado.

Albany’s Peter Hooley accepts Inspiration Award

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Last week, Albany senior Peter Hooley accepted the Inspiration Award at the Coaches vs Cancer Basket Ball in Troy, New York. The Albany athletic department uploaded his entire speech on Monday afternoon.

Hooley had one of the most uplifting moments of March after months and months of heartache.

The junior guard missed three weeks of the season to travel back home to Australia to be with his mother, who was battling colon cancer. She passed away in January. Hooley returned to the team in February and the following month, the Great Danes had a shot at an NCAA tournament berth. In the America East Tournament championship, Hooley sunk a game-winning shot with 1.6 seconds to go.

Hooley, who graduated in May, was selected to give the commencement speech.