When the USA Basketball Men’s U18 team took off for Brazil on Tuesday, Tennessee was represented.
UT forward Jarnell Stokes, the only rising sophomore on the 12-man team, will compete in the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship from Jun. 16-20 in Sao Sebastiao do Paraiso, Brazil.
Stokes was one of 23 players invited to try out for the team, which has been training since June 5 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. The 18-year-old is the oldest of the group, which features nine incoming freshmen who have signed with Division I programs. That includes 6-foot-8 forward Shaq Goodwin, a native of Decatur, Ga., who has signed with Memphis.
After graduating last December from Southwind High School in Memphis, Stokes enrolled for the spring semester. Just a week after his 18th birthday, the 6-foot-8, 250-pounder scored nine points and grabbed four rebounds off the bench against eventual national champ Kentucky on Jan. 14. In just 17 games, he ranked second in rebounding (7.4 rpg) and field goal percentage (.534) and third in scoring (9.6 ppg). He helped the Vols reach the second round of the NIT and was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team.
The USA is the reigning champion from the 2010 U18 Tournament and will open against the U.S. Virgin Islands on June 16. The USA will also play Mexico and Brazil in pool play. The top two teams from Group A and Group B advance to the semifinals. The bottom two teams from each group will play for fifth through eighth place.
The team is led by Florida head coach Billy Donovan, with Gonzaga’s Mark Few and VCU’s Shaka Smart serving as assistants.