Tennessee F Jarnell Stokes a major concern for Gators
Florida has a myriad of concerns heding into tonight's game at Tennessee - including the hostile crowd at Thompson-Boling Arena and a lack of depth due to injuries.
But among the biggest problems the Gators may encounter tonight is F Jarnell Stokes. The 6-foot-8, 270-pound sophomore in on a roll the past nine games and his presence inside could cause Florida some serious problems. Stokes has registered a double-double in eight of the last nine games, and during that span is averaging 16.3 points and 11.8 rebounds.
"I think he provides a physical challenge for everybody,'' Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "He’s a big, strong kid. He does a lot of good things around the basket. He’s a good rebounder. Probably the best thing about him in my opinion – besides a great body – is he’s got tremendous hands and that’s certainly something in traffic, posting up, rebounding, playing through contact, is probably one of his greatest strengths."
At one time, the Gators were among the candidates for Stokes, but his decision to chose UT left noe hard feelings with Donovan.
"He was a great kid,'' Donovan said. "I really enjoyed being around him. I think he was a really good team guy, committed to winning. Obviously his size and his strength is a major factor with him in the way that he plays. I thought he was very effective, did a lot of different things on our team on both ends of the floor, rebounding, scoring. I can see from watching film this year he’s gotten and I think continues to get better. I think last year he probably walked into a difficult situation walking in mid-year, bypassing his senior year in high school and kind of stepped into the role that they wanted to him to play was obviously challenging. After a year under his belt he’s obviously been able to figure out what this league and college basketball’s all about. And he’s played very well."
With just one true center, Patric Young, and depth issues at the forward position, the Gators know containing Stokes will require team effort, especially if Young gets into foul trouble early.
"He’s a physical body,'' F Casey Prather said. "It’s big, he presents size mismatches when I’m guarding him at the 4 or 5. Just his body or size alone is a big problem for us. I think we’ve just got to play solid. We’ve got to play good post defense and good help defense. That will be big."