The words every Mississippi State fan likes to read or hear when it comes to recruiting. "Jarvis (Varnado) has committed to Mississippi State."
That's what new Haywood (Brownsville, TN) High School head basketball coach Winston Varnado told me on the phone about an hour ago.
Jarvis, who is Coach Varnado's son, decided to commit due to the interest the Mississippi State coaches showed him, especially the interest they showed this past week.
While all the other college coaches were keying in on players at the major AAU tournaments going on throughout the country, the Mississippi State coaches were watching Jarvis work out in Brownsville, Tennessee, thanks to Coach Varnado's open door policy.
"The (Mississippi State) coaches made a good impression on him last week, although they had been on him hard," said the elder Varnado. "They were the only school that came by to see him this week. He was very impressed with that."
But the State coaches taking such individual attention in him wasn't the only factor that won the 6-9, 186-pounder over. It was also due to the friendship between Coach Varnado and MSU assistant coach Robert Kirby.
"(MSU assistant) Coach (Phil) Cunningham came after him hard - he was the first coach to come to him - but (MSU assistant coach) Robert Kirby went to my high school," said Coach Varnado. "He graduated two years ahead of me, but I knew him from from playing ball (with him). I know, as a parent, I can trust him because I know him and know his family is a good family. That was a big factor for me wanting him to go to Mississippi State. Then, (Jarvis) talked to Robert (on the phone) and he liked him as well. (MSU head) Coach (Rick) Stansbury also called him and that was a big deal to him."
What is it the MSU coaches like about Jarvis? Coach Varnado had an easy answer to that question.
"They like his ability to run the floor and block shots," said Varnado. "He can (also) score, but in our high school program last year we had several guys that could play, so on any given night anybody could hurt you. But he did average around 7 to 8 block shots per game. He has good timing for the ball.
"A funny story about that is I accused him as a freshman of not playing defense. The defense I like to see them play is where you cut them off on the baseline. So, I sat down and watched him play a B team game and he was blocking the older guys' shots. I changed my mind quick. Now, his defense is one of his stronger suits that is getting him noticed."
Getting noticed. While it seems like all the other good players, in an attempt to get noticed, started playing AAU ball almost as soon as they stopped wearing diapers, Jarvis has had to work a little harder to receive that same kind of attention due to his lack of AAU experience. Also, a lack of height until a 10th grade height explosion also kept him off the recruiting radar screen.
"He started playing AAU ball his sophomore year, but I removed him from AAU ball because he wasn't doing like I wanted him to academically, so, it was actually going into his 11th grade year when he really started playing (AAU ball)," said Varnado, of his son. "As he played AAU ball, he became confident that he could play with anyone. He also grew about 5 inches his sophomore year. I'm 6-6. One year, I was looking at the top of his head, then I was looking at his eyes."
But it wasn't just the height explosion and the new confidence that won the Bulldog coaches over. Also playing well against one of the most well-known players in the nation didn't hurt.
"He had a lot of big games, but I think the biggest game that he had in high school was the one when he played against (Scout.com 3rd ranked player) Thaddeus Young of Memphis-Mitchell," said Varnado. "We beat them and (Jarvis) had 20 points and 12 rebounds."
That game may just be a sign of what is yet to come for this recently turned 17-year old youngster.
"He's got a lot of room to grow," said Varnado. "Offensively, I don't think he has tapped the surface of what he can do. He can shoot the three, but I think he is a much better player around the paint. Once he learns what he can do, I think he will be, offensive-wise, a much better player. And, as he gets stronger, I think he will be a much better player. The University of Memphis coach compared him to Kelly Wise and Marcus Camby. Those are two good players."
And Coach Varnado is going to do his part to make sure Jarvis, who currently plays for the AAU Mid-State Ballers, has every chance to meet those lofty comparisons.
"Once he gets back from the (AAU) showcase in Orlando, Florida, we are going to get the weight program ready to go because I have to get them ready for the season," said Varnado.
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.