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Tennessee junior Jarnell Stokes announced Friday he's going to leave for the NBA

(WBIR) Jarnell Stokes announced Friday afternoon he's leaving the University of Tennessee for the NBA draft.

The forward announced shortly before 1 p.m. on Friday that he won't return for his senior season.

"It wasn't a tough decision," he said. "I've enjoyed being here so much, but it's hard to turn down something you've been chasing your whole life.

Stokes said he informed Coach Cuonzo Martin of his decision on Tuesday.

"He wished me the best of luck," said Stokes. "He wants the best for me. Told me it was my decision. That maybe it's time. He said 'you want to stay, we're happy to have you.'"

Stokes faces the same decision last year, but decided to stay with the Vols for his junior season.

"I'm so glad I stayed last year," he said. Stokes said that helped him get in better shape, soak up some more knowledge, and become a better rebounder.

Many scouts project Stokes to go late in the 1st round or early in the 2nd. He thinks he could do better when those teams see him play in person.

"I control my own destiny," he said.

He thanked UT for the great experience he had as a player, and particularly his teammates and Coach Martin, who he said knew he would be able to call for advice the rest of his life.

"I feel like I really grew up here, became a man here. I will always be a Vol for life," he said.

He also thanked the fans. He recalled the moment when he realized how great Big Orange Nation was, after his first game against Kentucky, when his jersey sold out all over the state. "I had just turned 18. Vol fans embraced me, they made me a local superstar I can't go anywhere without being asked to take photographs."

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KNOXVILLE (WBIR) - Vols junior Jarnell Stokes will meet with the media on Friday at 1 p.m. You will be able to watch live on

CBS Sports basketball writer Gary Parrish says the forward will announce his decision to enter the NBA Draft.

Stokes said after the season he would go through the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee to receive feedback before making his decision, which he also did after his sophomore season, before deciding to return to Knoxville.

Stokes posted 22 double-doubles in the 2013-14 season, tying Bernard King's school record for most double-doubles in one season.

He averaged 15.1 ppg and 10.6 rpg for the season.

His 40 career double-doubles are 4th all-time at UT, the Memphis native posting those in three seasons.

Stokes' 1,129 points are 41st all-time at Tennessee. His 836 rebounds are the eighth-most in school history.

Stokes set school records his junior year for rebounds (392) and offensive rebounds (155).

He is projected to go as high as mid to late in the first round of the June 26th draft.

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