Varnado picks MSU

Mississippi State seems to be establishing a pipeline into Tennessee's prep basketball talent.

Jarvis Varnado, a 6-foot-9, 186-pounder from Haywood High of Brownsville, is the latest native Tennessean to opt for Rick Stansbury's Bulldogs. His commitment was confirmed Saturday night by Winston Varnado, Jarvis' coach and his head coach at Haywood High.

Stansbury signed two Tennesseans last November, brothers Reginald and Richard Delk of Jackson North Side. He got another two months ago, when heralded Oak Hill (Va.) Academy standout Jamont Gordon, a former Nashville Glencliff star, committed to the Bulldogs.

Meanwhile, new Volunteer head man Bruce Pearl is still looking for his first in-state commitment. In addition to Gordon and Varnado, he appears to be out of the running for such in-state stars as 6-9 Brandon Wright (Brentwood Academy), 6-7 Pierre Niles (Memphis Ridgeway) and 6-2 Willie Kemp (Bolivar Central).

Even so, Pearl appears to have a shot at several standouts from the Volunteer State, including 6-8 Thaddeus Young and 6-4 Brandon Powell (Memphis Mitchell) and 6-9 Wayne Chism (Bolivar Central).

While many college coaches were watching AAU tournaments around the country last week, Mississippi State's coaches showed up at Brownsville High to push Jarvis for a commitment. Apparently, the ploy worked.

''The coaches made a good impression on him last week, although they had been on him hard,'' Winston Varnado told Gene Swindoll, publisher of ''They were the only school that came by to see him this week. He was very impressed with that.''

Another factor that apparently played a key role in Jarvis' commitment was the friendship between his dad and MSU assistant Robert Kirby. They attended the same high school and played some ball together.

Jarvis, who just turned 17, was something of a sleeper until he turned in a 20-point effort against Memphis Mitchell power forward Thaddeus Young (rated No. 3 by last season. He has followed up with some good camp work this summer that has kept his stock on the rise.

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