April 29, 2009
Mississippi State center Jarvis Varnado may not be able to get much bigger, but he can get better.
That''s why another season at Mississippi State would benefit the two-time Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
Varnado announced Monday that he was making himself eligible for early entry into the NBA Draft. He has until June 15 to decide if it is in his best interest.
There is not much more Varnado can do to become a better defensive player, other than to prove he is the best college shotblocker of all-time.
The area where Varnado needs to improve is offensively and he would probably be the first to say that.
There were some Mississippi State games last season where Varnado got lost in the middle while the team was throwing up 3-point shots.
To be a complete player at the next level, Varnado must continue to develop on offense. He has come a long way, but still has some work to do.
Varnado won''t last long in the NBA if all he has to hang his hat on is defense.
Most NBA draft experts seem to think Varnado will be a second-round pick if he decides to stay in the draft.
Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com said he''s not against college players becoming millionaires, but doesn''t think Varnado is where he needs to be in his career to get that kind of money.
"I''m not sure why anyone would want to be in a rush to be a second-round pick," Parrish said in an email. "To be clear, if Jarvis wants to take a paycheck somewhere next year, he can do that, guaranteed. If that is his goal, he should remain in the draft.
"But if his dream is to play in the NBA, then he should probably return to school, add some weight and some skill while trying to lead the Bulldogs back to the NCAA Tournament and enhancing his stock because right now his stock doesn''t appear to be at a place where millions of dollars are waiting for him."
If Varnado doesn''t return to MSU for his senior season, it will leave a hole in the middle for coach Rick Stansbury to fill.
It will be difficult for Elgin Bailey and Romero Osby to make up the difference, but the Bulldogs could get a lift if Renardo Sidney decides to sign.
Sidney, of Fairfax High School in Los Angeles and originally from Jackson, took a visit to the MSU campus recently. Despite making a verbal commitment to Southern Cal, Sidney might still consider becoming a Bulldog if the situation is right.
A player with Sidney''s size (6-foot-10, 270 pounds) could definitely step in and bang around some opponents right away for the Bulldogs.
Just imagine if Sidney and Varnado were on the court at the same time for MSU next season.
A great deal has to happen for that to be a realization. Varnado must return to school and Sidney has to turn his back on his verbal commitment to USC. Those are two big ifs.
It would be nice to see what both of them could do together for the Bulldogs, but the main thing is for both young men to make the right decisions for their futures.
Danny P. Smith is the assistant sports editor in charge of covering Mississippi State sports. To contact him, write firstname.lastname@example.org.
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