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October 30, 2009

Varnado named to Naismith Trophy watch list

STARKVILLE, Miss. - The honors continue to pour in for Jarvis Varnado.

On Thursday, the Mississippi State senior forward standout was one of 50 players named to the 2009-10 Naismith Trophy preseason watch list.

This distinction comes one week after he was tabbed preseason All-SEC by the media.

"It's an honor," the 6-foot-9 Brownsville, Tenn., native said. "I appreciate all the recognition I get. It makes me work harder, because I don't want to disappoint all the people who nominate me for these awards."

Varnado enters his senior season wearing the Maroon & White just 93 points shy of becoming the 31st player in school history to score 1,000 for a career.

Last year's SEC Tournament MVP also has 394 career blocked shots and needs just 18 more to tie Shaquille O'Neal's league mark of 412 and 141 more to tie the NCAA record of 535 set by Wojciech Mydra of Louisiana-Monroe.

As a junior, he set both a school and SEC single-season record with 170 blocks in leading the Bulldogs to a 23-13 ledger and a second-straight berth to the NCAA Tournament.

"There are a lot of great players out there," said Varnado, who paced the Bulldogs in scoring (12.9) and rebounds (8.8) a year ago. "Just to be mentioned with them is an honor."

Varnado, who is also on the John R. Wooden Award watch list, is one of eight SEC players in consideration for the Naismith Trophy honor. The Big East and Atlantic Coast Conference have nine players listed each.

The watch list was compiled by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Selectors, which based its criteria on player performances from the previous year and expectations for the 2009 -10 college basketball season. The Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T will be awarded at the 2010 NCAA Men's Final Four in Indianapolis, Ind.

"The level of talent is exceptional across all teams, conferences and classes, which further underscores just how many candidates have a legitimate chance to win this award," said Gary Stokan, Atlanta Tipoff Club president. "We are looking forward to the start of the season and to see who will end the year as the winner of the Naismith Trophy, the most prestigious award in college basketball."

Last year, Oklahoma's Blake Griffin won the award.



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