August 19, 2009
You might remember Mississippi State forward Jarvis Varnado from such films as "Mississippi State made a major leap in 2008, staring Jarvis Varnado," and "I will block that shot against the backboard and scream in your face," presented by Jarvis Varnado." The last time you saw the talented Mr. Varnado, he was leading the Mississippi State Bulldogs to the SEC tournament title and an NCAA appearance. Varnado has led the nation in blocked shots two years in a row. He's an awfully good player.
And now, he's a walk-on.
The Clarion-Ledger's Kyle Veazey has the scoop (thanks to Truth About It for the Twitter tip, by the way). When Bulldogs coach Rick Stansbury signed John Riek and the still-under-investigation Renardo Sidney, he signed his 13th and 14th players scholarship players. Unfortunately, there are only 13 scholarships available. Most coaches would probably just run a player off, but after mulling it over, Stansbury and the Varnado family came up with a mutual -- and pretty selfless -- solution. Varnado's father explains:
"We had discussed it with coach (Rick) Stansbury and he let us know that if Jarvis put his name in the draft, and he had a chance to get Renardo Sidney ... we'll take out a loan so he can come back to school," Winston Varnado, the coach at West Point High School, said.
Yes, Varnado -- basically a shoe-in for All-SEC this year -- is returning to school as a walk-on. Not only that, but he's taking out a loan for the $5,151 it costs to attend MSU as an in-state full-time undergraduate. Which very likely makes Varnado the single best walk-on player in college basketball in, what, the past 10 years? Longer?
And good for him. Varnado could have responded with petulance; he could have allowed Stansbury to shove off benchwarmer. But he didn't. He apparently cares enough about Mississippi State's chances in 2009-10 he's willing to go five grand in debt to improve them (the chances). Unheard of? Yep. Admirable? That too.