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.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.