Jarnell Stokes. Wade Payne, AP
From UT Sports:
Tennessee basketball player Jarnell Stokes is among 24 elite talents invited to participate in the 2013 Men's U19 World Championship Team training camp, USA Basketball announced Wednesday.
One of the top returning post players in the nation - and the only "major" conference player in America to average a double-double in league play last season (13.1 ppg, 10.7 rpg) - Stokes is one of 16 players with previous USA Basketball experience. He was a starter on last summer's U18 FIBA Americas Championships squad that captured the gold medal in Brazil.
"I've been preparing for this chance," Stokes said. "I'm thankful to God for continuing to bless me with these opportunities, and I'm going to work as hard as I can to earn my place on the team again. Having a chance to compete for a world championship is a blessing and an honor."
Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin echoed Stokes' sentiments about the opportunity to represent his country in international competition.
"Anytime you receive an invitation from USA Basketball it's something to be proud of," Martin said. "Jarnell benefited from his experience (with USA Basketball) last summer, and I think he's got a great chance of making this year's team as well. The way he played during the last half of the season showed that he is one of the best players in the country. And I know earning the right to wear that 'USA' across his chest means a lot to Jarnell."
Seven of Stokes' teammates from last summer's U18 team join him on this year's U19 training camp roster.
The USA's U19 training camp takes place June 14-19 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., and will be used to select the 12-member Junior National Team that will compete in the FIBA U19 World Championship in Prague, Czech Republic, June 27-July 7.
Team finalists will be announced following the June 15 morning session, and the official 12-man roster is expected to be announced either one or two days later.
"We have a really impressive group of talented players, and a large number of the players have USA Basketball and college experience," USA Basketball Men's Junior National Team Committee chair Jim Boeheim said. "Selecting our 12-man U19 team will be extremely difficult, but the committee is excited and confident that we will be able to field another strong USA team. The FIBA U19 World Championship might be, from top to bottom, the most competitive competition FIBA conducts. Any of the teams that are competing have a real chance to win the U19 gold medal, as has been shown by six different countries winning the title over the last six U19 World Championship."
Player selections for the USA U19 World Championship Team will be made by the 2013-16 USA Basketball Men's Junior National Team Committee. In addition to chair and NCAA representative Boeheim, the committee features four additional voting members: NCAA appointees Bob McKillop (head coach, Davidson), Matt Painter (head coach, Purdue) and Lorenzo Romar (head coach, Washington), as well as athlete representative Curtis Sumpter, a 2011 USA Pan American Games and 2004 USA U20 National Team member.
The full roster of training camp participants features one rising junior, Stokes, 17 rising sophomores, four graduating high school seniors and two rising high school seniors.
The coaching staff from last summer's U18 team carries over to this year's U19 squad. Billy Donovan (head coach, Florida) returns as head coach, and Shaka Smart (head coach, VCU) returns as an assistant coach. However, assistant coach Mark Few (head coach, Gonzaga), citing family and program commitments, announced last week that he will not take part in this summer's competition. He will be replaced on the bench by Tony Bennett (head coach, Virginia).
A native of Memphis, Tenn., Stokes finished last season as Tennessee's team leader in total rebounding (9.6 rpg), offensive rebounding (4.2 orpg), free-throw attempts (194) and blocks (1.1 bpg).
His 4.2 offensive rebounds per game ranked third among all players in Division I college basketball, and his 16 double-doubles were the most among SEC players and marked the most by a Vol in a season since Hall of Famer Bernard King had 19 in 1976-77.
Stokes will enter the 2013-14 collegiate season as a national honors and SEC Player of the Year candidate.