STARKVILLE, Miss. - Earlier this year, Jarvis Varnado became the first player in the history of college basketball to score 1,000 points, collect 1,000 rebounds and block 500 shots.
On Friday in Indianapolis, he made more history by being named the first recipient of the Lefty Driesell Award, which will be presented annually to the nation's top Division I defensive player. The senior All-SEC forward, who concluded his Mississippi State career by leading the Bulldogs to the Western Division crown en route to 24 victories, was also one of 20 players named by CollegeInsider.com to the 2010 Lefty Drisell Defensive All-America team.
The award is named after legendary coach Lefty Driesell, who in 41 seasons as a head coach amassed 786 wins, which ranked him fifth all-time among division I head coaches when he retired in 2003. In 2007, was named to the second class of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.
"When Jarvis came here four years ago, I don't think any of us imagined what he would eventually achieve," said MSU coach Rick Stansbury, who just completed his 12th season on the MSU sidelines. "To say you've done something no one in the history of college basketball has ever done is special. And I've said it many times, as great of a player he is, he's an even better person."
This past year as a senior, Varnado became the 31st player in Mississippi State history to score 1,000 points. He finished 13th all-time with 1,403 points, while his 1,096 rebounds are second only to the 1,277 Bailey Howell grabbed from 1957-59.
Yet, he'll be remembered most for his shot blocking ability.
Against Alabama on Feb. 24 at Humphrey Coliseum, he became the NCAA's career leader, breaking the mark of 535 set by former Louisiana-Monroe standout Wojciech Myrda. He finished with 564 after swatting 170 this past season, which tied the SEC single-season record he set as a junior.
"It's an honor to be the first winner of this award," the 6-foot-9 Brownsville , Tenn. , native said. "It's very humbling. I've been blessed with great coaches and teammates that helped me earn this honor."
This award is one of many Varnado has garnered this season.
The list features: First-team All-SEC by the Associated Press and Coaches, All-SEC Defensive Team and Defensive Player of the Year by the coaches, Wooden and Naismith Award finalists, Sporting News Defensive Player of the Year and All-SEC, USBWA All-District IV Team, NABC All-Distrcit 21 First Team, NABC Defensive Player of the Year, Rivals.com, Lefty Driesell Defensive All-American Team and Defensive Player of the Year, and CollegeInsider.com SEC MVP.
Driesell and his mark
Driesell is best known for his 17-year tenure at the University of Maryland , where he built the Terrapins into a perennial contender in the Atlantic Coast Conference, recruiting such players as Tom McMillen, Len Elmore, John Lucas, Albert King, Buck Williams, and Len Bias.
Under the guidance of Driesell , Maryland won the National Invitational Tournament in 1972 and its' second-ever ACC Tournament Championship in 1984. He finished his career at Maryland with a 348-159 record.
"Coach Driesell was one of the finest teachers in the game," says Len Elmore. "During his era he coached some of the outstanding defenders and rebounders in college basketball. Much of what I know about the game of basketball I attribute to him, particularly on the defensive end where I excelled as a player. It's only fitting that this award bears his name."
2010 Lefty Driesell Defensive All-America Team