PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Tennessee basketball player Jarnell Stokes is a FIBA gold medalist for the second straight summer, as his USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team defeated a talented Serbia squad 82-68 Sunday at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship at O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic.
The U.S. led by just six points at the end of the third quarter but exploded in the fourth, outscoring the Serbs 25-17 over the final 10 minutes.
Just last summer, Stokes and several of his teammates from this current U.S. squad captured U18 gold at the 2012 FIBA Americas Championship in Brazil.
“It’s surreal to be able to win another gold knowing where I came from,” Stokes said. “I was blessed to be able to start for this team, and I’m honored to win the gold not only for the whole state of Tennessee but for the entire country.”
Stokes is just the third Vol ever to capture multiple gold medals in sanctioned international competition. Former All-American Ernie Grunfeld won gold at the 1975 Pan American Games and the 1976 Olympic Games. And UT’s all-time leading scorer, Allan Houston, earned three international gold medals: 1990 U18 FIBA Americas Championship, 1999 Tournament of the Americas, 2000 Olympic Games.
“I’m really happy for Jarnell,” Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin said. “This makes two straight years that he’s had the chance to compete against the best in the world in his age group. The experience he’s gained with USA Basketball has made him a better player, and he’s going to be one of the best returning big men in the college game.
“I also want to congratulate the USA Basketball organization and (USA U19 head coach) Billy Donovan on a great tournament.”
With Sunday’s victory, the United States is now the reigning FIBA world champion in every age classification (U17, U19, Senior); the Americans had previously failed to capture U19 gold since 1999.
Stokes scored four points and hauled in four rebounds in 14 minutes played Sunday.
The rising junior from Memphis, Tenn., started all nine game for undefeated Team USA at the championship. He averaged 7.2 points and 4.6 rebounds while playing 12.7 minutes per contest. Stokes also grabbed 2.1 offensive rebounds per game and totaled six steals.
During their time in Prague, the Americans owned a 39.6-point average margin of victory. They posted wins over Ivory Coast, China, Russia, Brazil, Australia, Serbia (twice), Canada and Lithuania.
USA Basketball’s men’s teams are now 78-13 in the U19/Junior World Championships and have won five gold and three silver medals.