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CollegeInsider.com Defensive Player of the Year

2008 CollegeInsider.com Awards




April 3, 2008
Jarvis Varnado was named the Defensive Player of the Year.BOSTON (MA) -- The nation’s top shot blocker during the 2007-08 season has been selected as the nation’s top defensive player.

This year’s unanimous selection as the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year, Jarvis Varnado has been named as the CollegeInsider.com National Defensive Player of the Year.

“It's very obvious that Jarvis played a huge role in us being able to win the SEC Western Division championship and have as much success as we had this season with his ability to control the middle and protect the basket,” says Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury. “It's quite an honor to lead the nation in any statistical category, so this indeed a very special and well deserved honor for Jarvis.”

The 6-foot-9 sophomore tallied 157 blocks this season, which easily broke Erick Dampier’s previous single-season school standard of 106 rejects set during MSU’s 1995-96 Final Four campaign. In addition, Varnado matched Shaquille O’Neal’s all-time SEC season mark of 157 blocks set at LSU in 1991-92 to also rank tied for 15th all-time in NCAA history.

With his 157 blocks this season, Varnado has individually blocked more shots than 305 NCAA Division I men's basketball teams (out of 341 NCAA Division I programs) during the current campaign, according to research provided by STATS out of Chicago.

Earlier this season Varnado had the school’s third recorded triple-double with 10 points, 12 rebounds and 10 blocks in the Bulldogs’ 69-64 victory over Kentucky (Jan. 15). Varnado also had 10 blocks against NCAA Tournament entries Miami (Fla.) and Georgia. All total during the 2007-08 season, he was credited with five or more blocks on 17 occasions.

Varnado’s defensive presence in the post this season for coach Rick Stansbury’s NCAA Tournament squad has enabled the 23-11 Bulldogs to rank second nationally in blocked shots (7.85 bpg) as well as field-goal percentage defense (.370) en route to setting an all-time school record for blocks (267 this season after 222 last season) for the second consecutive season.

“It's been a wonderful year for me and my teammates in winning the SEC West and playing in the NCAA Tournament,” says Varnado. “This award really makes me want to work harder during this off-season and get even better for next season.”

With 224 career blocks in just 69 MSU outings through two seasons, Varnado already ranks second on the school’s all-time list behind Dampier’s three-year total of 249 career blocks. After posting the fourth-best season field-goal percentage mark (.641) in school history this past year, Varnado now tops State’s all-time chart in career field-goal percentage (.643).

“He made immense progress with his strength and conditioning this past off-season and it showed on the court this season,” says Stansbury. “And of course, there is no substitute for experience and learning how to stay away from foul trouble. We look for Jarvis to continue that progression in the future as he gains more strength and continues to increase his endurance. We believe this will also lead to Jarvis' offensive game blossoming next season.”

Varnado was one of 16 players named to the CollegeInsider.com Defensive All-America team earlier this week.

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