Originally written on The Lottery Mafia  |  Last updated 4/26/15
The former University of Tennessee head basketball coach Cuonzo Martin (now Cal’s lead man) discusses the two standouts from his Sweet 16 Volunteers squad. First, junior power forward Jarnell Stokes was snatched in the early second round of the 2014 NBA Draft. Although originally taken by the Utah Jazz with the No. 35 pick, he was quickly aquired by his hometown Memphis Grizzlies. A little later, just two picks before Mr. Irrelevant was named, Stokes’ Tennessee teammate Jordan McRae was also drafted into the NBA. Like Stokes, he was traded shortly after (the Spurs traded the shooting guard to Philadelphia). McRae, a first-team All-SEC selection his junior and senior seasons, spent all four seasons at Tennessee, three of which under Cuonzo Martin. Stokes, a strong 6-foot-8 foward, has gained a good deal of attention for his rebounding prowess, after averaging 9.9 rebounds per 30 minutes (including a whopping 4.1 offensive boards per 30). Without further ado, here are Martin’s thoughts on his former players as they ready for the next level: 1:26 – As “one of the city’s own,” Memphis “fans will migrate to” Jarnell Stokes. 2:15 – What transformed Stokes into a great rebounder 3:30 – Stokes is at his best “facing up as opposed to (when he’s) back to the basket.” 3:45 – Stokes improved his ball-screen defense every year at Tennessee. 4:32 – Jordan McRae always had a scorer’s mindset, but improved his all-around game and basketball IQ over the course of his four-year collegiate career. 7:00 – The weight room will be instrumental in McRae’s progression. 7:20 – As he ages, McRae will “mature into a point guard.”
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