Jarnell Stokes is the best overall rebounder in the 2014 NBA Draft. He’s a 6-8 power forward who prides himself on playing a physical brand of basketball that’s both punishing and effective. If he is available at pick 33 on June 26, that would be a steal for the Cleveland Cavaliers. But I highly doubt he’ll still be on the board by then and most draft experts agree.
As a junior last season at Tennessee, Stokes averaged 15.1 points and 10.6 rebounds while eventually leading the Volunteers to the Sweet 16. I talked with the big man about growing up in Memphis, working out for his hometown Grizzlies and preparing for the NBA Draft earlier this week.
Below is some of our conversation (via SLAM Online):
SLAM: You play a physical, tough style of basketball. How much did growing up in the Whitehaven area of Memphis with a father who has a military background impact that approach to your game?
JS: I did grow up in the hood. But my parents were very strict on me and they somewhat sheltered me away from the bad environment that I grew up in. Like you said, I have a Dad who was in the military for a while, so he was very strict on me growing up. He had 5 a.m. wakeup calls. He was at my games as the loudest one there and he was always making sure that I was on top of everything I needed to be in order to be successful. So it doesn’t matter where you come from. Obviously, I come from a bad part of Memphis. But I came out OK. I was tough, and it somewhat gave me a tough exterior as far as my personality on the floor, the way I carry myself and the way I approach the game. I credit that to my Dad. When guys are comparing me to someone like a David West during this draft process, that’s a huge compliment to me in terms of toughness and I think it reflects how I was raised.