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Jarnell Stokes to return to Tennessee for junior season

Apr 27, 2013, 10:46 AM EST

Jarnell Stokes, Daniel Coursey AP

Another key member of Tennessee’s 2012-2013 season is set to return to Knoxville next fall.

Second-leading scorer Jarnell Stokes will not declare for the NBA Draft and will instead be back in a Volunteers’ uniform for his junior season. The school announced the news on Saturday morning.

“After considering entering the NBA Draft, I have decided to return to Tennessee for my junior season,” Stokes said in a school statement. “After talking with my family I have decided to come back and I am excited to return to the Vols. I am looking forward to playing with Jeronne (Maymon), Jordan (McRae), Trae (Golden) and my other teammates again. I think we are ready for a big season, one that will make Vol Nation proud.”

Two weeks ago, leading scorer Jordan McRae announced he would be back for his senior year. The 6-foot-5 McRae dropped 15.7 points per game, followed by Stokes with 12.7 points per game.

“I am excited that Jarnell is returning for his junior season,” Cuonzo Martin said. “I thought he had a great sophomore campaign. He did a tremendous job of improving throughout the season. He did a great job in terms of offensive rebounding. This is very exciting news for our team and the entire Tennessee family.”

Martin should be excited. Tennessee was on the bubble for an NCAA tournament bid this season before ultimately settling for a berth in the NIT.

The SEC should be better next season. Florida returns Patric Young and Scottie Wilbekin while gaining top-recruits Kasey Hill and Chris Walker. Kentucky is suppose to be bringing in the best recruiting class of all time and Ole Miss returns fan favorite Marshall Henderson.

According to the press release, with the 6-foot-8 Stokes returning for next season, the Volunteers return 83.7 percent of its scoring and 86.3 percent of its rebounding.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne