No, there isn’t an “R” missing in “Stokes,” and although I’m not Willis I’m about to tell you exactly “what I’m talkin’ bout’.”
Every basketball player, whether collegiate or pro, has their good games and their bad games. For Tennessee’s basketball team, however, no one can have a more night-and-day performance quite like junior forward Jarnell Stokes.
Stokes virtually averages a double-double with 13.6 points per game, and 9.9 rebounds per game. Only twice have the Vols lost when he’s had a double-double. He ranks 17th in the nation, second in the SEC, in rebounds per game, and fifth in the nation, tied for first in the SEC, in double-doubles this season with 11.
Like Jordan McRae, Stokes is a catalyst for the team’s performance game in and game out. Only twice have the Vols lost when he’s recorded one of his 11 double-doubles, while four of their losses have come when he scores 10 points or less.
One of the biggest reasons for his shortcoming performances is foul trouble. In both games he’s fouled out this season, both resulting in losses, he’s averaged six points and four rebounds. However, in games he’s had two fouls or less he’s averaged 14.2 points and 10 rebounds per game, leading the Vols to an 11-3 record in those 14 games.
While McRae may be the scoring machine Tennessee blindingly relies on when looking for offensive productivity, it’s inevitably the performance of Stokes that keeps the wheels turning for this team. Moving forward they will have to hope it’s the dominating, double-double grabbing Stokes that shows up to finish out the stretch if they want to be dancing in March. Otherwise, it could be a third-straight NIT invitation, which hasn’t happened in school history.