White’s gamble pays out today

Terrico White will learn tonight just how profitable his decision to remain in the draft will be.
White announced in the spring he was leaving Ole Miss after his sophomore year to take the plunge with the NBA.
Most projections have him listed as a late first- or early second-round pick.
Chad Ford of ESPN.com says the New Jersey Nets could use their second first-round pick on White, while NBAdraft.net says White could be selected in the late first round by his hometown team, the Memphis Grizzlies.
Questions have arisen about White’s consistency. He averaged just 11.5 points in SEC games, failing to gain any all-conference attention just a year after averaging 18.4 points and being named the league’s freshman of the year.
His numbers increased in the NIT, however, when he averaged 21 points in four games. While his production was fickle at season’s end, White’s achievements a year ago combined with his undeniable athleticism, and he remained on the radar of draft watchers. He improved his stock at the pre-draft camp in Chicago that focused on interviews, drill work and physical tests, and he’s auditioned for a number of teams.
“Certainly, he’s helped himself through the workout process,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “He tested very well in Chicago, as we knew he would.”
White was recruited as a shooting guard but was pressed into the role of point guard when Chris Warren tore up a knee in December of 2008.
White will likely be a shooting guard at the next level but could play some point too.
“Defensively is where he can really improve,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said. “As long and athletic as he is, he doesn’t really get the blocks, steals or deflections that you would expect. He’s a limited shooter, and I think he needs to impact the game more on the defensive end to be the best he can be.”
Varnado awaits call
Unlike White, Mississippi State’s Jarvis Varnado flirted with the draft and then ultimately pulled out to return for his senior season. Good decision, as he increased his production by averaging 13.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 4.2 blocks per game.
The NCAA’s career blocked shots leader (564) could slip into the end of the first round but more likely will go mid- to late-second round. His defensive acumen is somewhat offset by his 6-9, 210-pound frame.
Varnado’s tried out for several teams and attended same Chicago combine as White. Washington and Milwaukee are two teams often mentioned in mock drafts as potential landing spots for the native of Brownsville, Tenn.
ESPN analyst and former college coach Fran Fraschilla said Varnado will probably have to be a specialist to catch on in the NBA. Varnado’s strength is his weakside defense, which is how he got a lot of his blocks.
“I’m not sure he’s got the frame to really fill out and hold his ground in the low post against the conventional power forwards in the NBA,” Fraschilla said.
Varnado is looking to be the first Bulldog drafted since Lawrence Roberts in 2005 (Seattle, second round).

What about Latavious?
Starkville native Latavious Williams, the Daily Journal’s 2008 boys basketball player of the year, is eligible to be drafted after a season in the NBA Developmental League.
The 6-foot-8 forward is looking to be the first player to be drafted after skipping college for a season in the NBADL. Williams had planned to play at Memphis but did not qualify on academics.
ESPN.com’s Ford has Williams ranked as the 59th-best player in the draft pool, but does not project him to get drafted. That would leave Williams free to join an NBA team as a free agent.

Contact Parrish Alford at 678-1600 or parrish.alford@djournal.com; Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or brad.locke@djournal.com.

Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal