STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State senior All-SEC forward Jarvis Varnado is one of 12 collegiate basketball players named to the USA Basketball World University Games Team, the organization announced late Thursday afternoon.
A total of 16 players were invited to the three-day tryout in Colorado Springs , Colo. , with the final roster of 12 decided by the USA Basketball Men's Junior National Team Committee, chaired by Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim.
The World University Games, which will be played in Belgrade , Serbia , July 2-12, is organized by the International University Sports Federation and held every other year. The 2009 competition includes 24 men's basketball teams competing for a gold medal. Eligible athletes for the USA team must be currently enrolled in a college or university and have remaining NCAA athletic eligibility.
Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan will serve as coach, with Frank Haith of Miami and Rob Jeter of Wisconsin-Milwaukee serving as the assistants.
"It's such an honor to make this team and represent your country and Mississippi State ," said the 6-foot-9, 220-pound Brownsville , Tenn. , native. "I'm looking forward to playing with some great players and hopefully coming back with a gold medal."
Also named to the 2009 USA Men's World University Games Team were: James Anderson (Oklahoma State/Junction City, Ark.); Talor Battle (Penn State/Albany, N.Y.); Trevor Booker (Clemson/Whitmire, S.C.); Craig Brackins (Iowa State/Palmdale, Calif.); Da'Sean Butler (West Virginia/Newark, N.J.); Corey Fisher (Villanova/Bronx, N.Y.); Lazar Hayward (Marquette/Buffalo, N.Y.); Robbie Hummel (Purdue/Valparaiso, Ind.); Quincy Pondexter (Washington/Fresno, Calif.); Deon Thompson (North Carolina/Torrance, Calif.); Evan Turner (Ohio State/Chicago, Ill.).
"First of all, all 16 players at trials are very good players," Ryan said. "Everybody that competed worked very hard against one another at a very high level. The toughest part was getting down to the 12 players. I don't want to take anything away from the guys who didn't make it, but the 12 who are on the final list are the ones that if you look at the overall picture - offense, defense, rebounding, things like that - this was the 12 that stood out. I thought the selection committee did a very good job of evaluating.
"The next step is to make sure we are all on the same page in everything that we do. We can't have three guys handling screens one way, for example, and two guys doing something different. What we are going to try to do defensively is make sure that we understand our rotations and coverage, and from there, understand offensively what our looks are going to be. We need to learn to play to our strengths and not shy away from weaknesses, and those are all nuances that will play out over the next week before we head to Serbia ."
This past season as a junior, Varnado started a school-record 36 games and averaged a team-high 12.9 points and 8.8 boards in leading the Bulldogs to a 23-13 ledger and a trip to the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row.
He also set an SEC single-season record with 170 blocked shots and needs just 19 more to surpass former LSU great Shaquille O'Neal's SEC career mark of 412. With 141 more, he'll tie the NCAA record of 535 set by Louisiana-Monroe's Wojciech Mydra from 1998-2002.
He was also instrumental in MSU winning the SEC Tournament in Tampa, Fla., with his MVP performance of 13.8 points, 8.8 boards and 22 blocked shots in the Bulldogs' magical four-game run to the crown.
Varnado, a two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year, enters his senior season 93 points shy of becoming the 31st MSU player to score 1,000 for a career, while his 727 rebounds rank ninth all-time.
"I am proud for Jarvis," 12th-year MSU coach Rick Stansbury said. "It's a great opportunity for him and our university, too. There is no substitute for the experience he'll gain from these games."