Varnado Returning For Senior Season

Fortunately for the collective Bulldog country peace of mind, Jarvis Varnado chose not to wait up to the deadline before making it official: Mississippi State's all-star center will be back in Humphrey Coliseum to swat more shots and win more championships.

Mississippi State media relations director Gregg Ellis confirmed Monday evening that Varnado has withdrawn from the National Basketball Association's early-entry pool, and he will return for his senior season. Varnado, who submitted his name in April without giving up college eligbility, had up to June 15 to back out on the June 25 draft.

"I feel like I wasn't ready for the NBA," Varnado was quoted in MSU's offical announcement. "Another year in college can only help my game, and I'm really excited about this team. I'm looking forward to coming back and playing with these guys another year. I think we have a chance to make some noise, and not just in the SEC. This was a decision I prayed a lot about, and I feel this is what God wants me to do."

A first-team All-SEC selection this past season, Varnado will go into his senior year already the Mississippi State record-holder with 394 blocked shots, and needing 18 more to match the three-year SEC mark of Shaquille O'Neal set in 1992. The NCAA career record of 535 is certainly within his considerable reach. He already is the only two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year and a third such honor would seem likely.

As a junior Varnado raised his scoring average from 7.9 points to 12.9. He needs 93 more points to become the 31st member of the MSU 1,000-Point Club, joining classmate Barry Stewart. The pair of seniors have played on two SEC Western Division championship teams, as well as the 2009 SEC Tournament winners, and participated in three-straight NCAA Tournaments. Now with the center-piece of State's lineup secured, Mississippi State will be a leading contender in pre-season picks for the 2010 overall SEC title.

Varnado's return along with four freshman signees means that as of now there are 14 scholarship players on the 2009-10 roster, one over the NCAA's limit. Besides the two seniors, State lists juniors-to-be forward Kodi Augustus, center Elgin Bailey, guard-forward Phil Turner, guard Riley Benock, and guard Ravern Johnson; sophomores guard Dee Bost, guard Twany Beckham, and forward Romero Osby; along with newcomers guard Shaunessy Smith, forward-center Renardo Sidney, and center Wendell Lewis and center John Riek. Stansbury has until the start of the fall semester to meet the 13-grant limit for the next school year.

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