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After being a key member of USA Basketball's U19 national team that won the gold medal in the World Championships this past summer, Jarnell Stokes helped his Tennessee Volunteer team reach the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen, where they fell to Michigan. Stokes had a successful season individually, as he was named to the SEC All-Conference 1st Team as well as the SEC All-Tournament Team.
Stokes increased his production for the third year in row, as he finished the season averaging 19.5 points and 13.7 rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted. He has also been able to increase his minutes as he has improved his conditioning each year, as he was able to play just over 32 minutes per game this season, which helped him become more relied upon in the Volunteer offense.
Measured at 6'9, Stokes has an impressive 7'1 wingspan, which helps make up for his for the fact that he will be smaller than similar players in the NBA and is not particularly explosive. Stokes is very strong and uses his lower body well to carve out space on both ends of the floor. He hasn't lost much of his strength after shedding some weight and this has helped him improve his open court speed, which allows him to beat big men down the floor in transition.
Offensively, the majority of Stokes' baskets come around the rim, either from offensive rebounds or post up opportunities. At 5.5 offensive rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted, Stokes was one of the best offensive rebounders in college basketball and ranks as the #1 offensive rebounder among our top-100-prospects. He is a tireless worker who chases nearly every missed shot, securing many rebounds that were out of his immediate area. He is great at converting second chances, shooting 61.6% on such chances, according to Synergy Sports.
In the post, Stokes is excellent at gaining initial position with his lower body and then showed some decent footwork to get good looks at the rim. He relied on his size and strength against collegiate defenders, so he will need to improve his footwork and develop secondary moves when he cannot overpower his defender. He has solid vision as a post passer, especially out of a double team, but needs to become more consistent on the accuracy of his passes to his teammates to put them in better position to catch and shoot.
Stokes attempted only 37 jump shots last season according to Synergy Sports and converted only 35% on these attempts. His fundamentals need to improve, but it would be helpful for him to develop a useful mid-range jump to make him a more dangerous offensive player, especially out of ball screen situations. Developing a steady jump shot would make him a more well rounded offensive player and a more enticing prospect as he would be able to space the floor by becoming a mid-range threat. As of right now, he looks like an undersized center who dominates collegiate opponents with his brute strength, so improving his ability to operate outside the paint could improve his prospects significantly.
On the defensive end, Stokes has the potential to be a useful interior player due mainly to his strength, which will not let him get pushed around inside. He won't be rim protector due to his average leaping ability, but his length will allow him to at least challenge shot opportunities. His defensive ceiling is somewhat limited, however, because he will be at a disadvantage on the perimeter due to his poor lateral quickness while being somewhat undersized on the interior. This is one of the biggest concerns he faces in translating his effectiveness to the NBA level.
Stokes is nearly as good a defensive rebounder as he is on the offensive end, as his 8.2 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted ranked sixth among all players in our top-100 prospect rankings . He is a consistent ball hawk who has a nose for the ball, both for those that drop in his area and those he has to chase down. This will be a necessary skill for him to stay in the league and he will need to continue to play at a high intensity level to be a valuable rebounder.
Due to entering college early, Stokes is the third youngest junior in college basketball and is younger than several sophomore draft prospects. Stokes will need to continue to play at a high intensity level to make up for his physical limitations, which will help him be a dominant rebounder at the next level. This will help him find his way onto a NBA team, but by adding a few pieces to his offensive game, mainly an improved mid-range jump shot, he can raise his ceiling as a NBA player and become a real contributor for a team that values his strength and physicality.