Former Mississippi State center Jarvis Varnado flirted with the NBA Draft after his junior season, decided to return to school, and had the best year of his career. He averaged 13.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and became the NCAA’s all-time leading shot blocker while continuing to hone his offensive game.
Now, he awaits the 2010 draft (June 24), hoping to find the right fit for his skill set. Despite his offensive improvement, defense will be what gets Varnado on the floor.
As ESPN analyst Rich Zvosec told me yesterday, Varnado does two things particularly well, things you don’t see a lot of in the college game these days: “He blocks shots, and he rebounds. I think of him, I think of (Kansas’) Cole Aldrich, as two guys who can block shots, change a game that way, and change a game on the glass.”
Zvosec called Varnado a “poor man’s (Dikembe) Mutombo,” referring to the 7-foot-2 NBA veteran known for his shot-blocking, defense and finger-wagging. Varnado’s only 6-9, but he plays taller with his length and uncanny ability for timing his jump.
So who will take a shot on Varnado? Hard to say, but the consensus seems to be that he’ll go late in the first round or early in the second.
“A lot of teams like me, but it’s still up in the air right now,” Varnado said. “Anybody can take me. A lot of teams are saying I’ve got a chance to go in the first round. I’m just going to keep working and find that team that likes me a lot to draft me.”
Said Zvosec, “I think the biggest thing is a lot of the European guys taking their names out has helped him in a year that maybe the draft is not as full of big names, sure-fire type guys.”