Jarvis Varnado Visits Mississippi State

Mississippi State commitment Jarvis Varnado, a shot-blocking machine from Haywood High School in Brownsville, Tennessee who is currently ranked the 61st best player in the nation by Scout.com, officially visited MSU a couple of weekends ago. He and his dad, Winston, who visited with his son, talked about the visit.

Jarvis Varnado Profile Page

"It was a real good visit," said Jarvis. "I liked the environment. My (future) teammates were nice. I know the (MSU freshmen) Delk twins from playing against them since junior high."

His dad agreed with Jarvis' opinion. Plus, there were many other things that impressed him as a parent and a basketball coach.

"I'll be honest with you, not only the coaching staff, but the academic advisor, Mrs. (Lynda) Moore, also really impressed me," said Winston, the new head basketball coach at Haywood High School. "She is going to be a terror on them. In my opinion, that's the reason he's going to college. While I do love basketball, what I want Jarvis and my players to be successful in is their academics. And I think she is going to get that out of him.

"I also love the strength coach (Richard Akins), I love him. It looks like he is all business. I wish he would come to Haywood (High School) and work with them.

"For me, as a parent, it is important that he is going somewhere that has kids with good character. I talked to (MSU head basketball) Coach (Rick) Stansbury about that this weekend. I met some of his guys. They all had good character and said nothing but yes sir and no sir to me. They are not just trying to do the right things in life, but are doing the right things in life."

And having his childhood friend Robert Kirby on the coaching staff sure didn't hurt.

"Having Robert there makes a big difference, even moreso now," said Winston. "It's almost like we are re-living what we did as kids. I knew him. I ate at his house. Robert is going to joke with you, laugh with you, but he's all about business. I took my youngest son with us to see the strength coach. He wanted to play the playstation. I told Robert, 'here's my belt. If you need it, go ahead and whip him.' That's how comfortable I feel with him."

Jarvis talked about what ultimately caused him to commit to Mississippi State.

"After I came back from the addidas camp, Coach Stansbury came to everyone of our pickup games at our high school," he said. "He showed such a strong commitment to me, I felt like it was the right decision for me to make. And I'm familiar with the Delk twins. Plus, my parents can come see me play."

And it wasn't just Rick Stansbury that showed such serious interest in Jarvis. Mississippi State assistant coach Phil Cunningham, the coach that recruited Jarvis for MSU, proved to be relentless in his recruitment of the future power forward.

"I promise you, I know Coach (Phil) Cunningham better than I know Robert (Kirby) due to him being the first coach to come into the picture," said Winston. "And he's been there ever since. He was serious about recruiting Jarvis and wanted him to be a part of the Mississippi State program."

Jarvis mentioned the reasons the MSU coaching staff wanted him so badly.

"They feel I can rebound and block shots," said Jarvis, who also considered Tennessee, Maryland, Xavier and Murray State. "Things, I normally can do."

And his confidence factor may have also played a part in their decision to offer him a scholarship.

"The most improvement that I've seen in him is the confidence factor that he got from his play this summer," said Winston. "I guess you can say that his level of play has gone from that of a high school player to, probably, a freshman in college or even higher."

Winston explained his reasoning behind his son's improved play.

"I think it's because he now realizes that he can play with (the best players in high school)," he said. "He's always worked hard, but it looks like he is going beyond just working hard. Now, when he works on the weights, I have to tell him to slow down."

Jarvis agreed with his dad's opinion about his improvement.

"I felt comfortable with my role," said Jarvis. "I felt like I could play against anybody in America (this past summer)."

But Jarvis also knows that he has some improvement to make.

"I need to work on my strength and a little more on my shot," he said. And add a little weight. "I'm 6-9 and weigh 190. I want to get up to about 230."

As for that always important question, what about his academics?, Jarvis, according to his dad, is doing fine.

"He is going to be fine, academically," said Winston. "He barely missed making the honor roll this semester."

And considering how hard he now works, both on the court...and in the classroom...I would be surprised if he doesn't make the honor roll next semester.

That would be a nice accomplishment to finish off what will be an outstanding high school basketball career.

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 swindoll@genespage.com.

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