When I think of shot blockers, towering centers like Olajuwon, Eaton, Bol, Jabbar, Mutombo, Chamberlain and Shaq first come to mind. These seven-foot-plus players have set the standard when it comes to swatting and stuffing. As the NBA has evolved into an above-the-rim league, we still have the prototypical seven-footers protecting the rim – guys like Duncan, D. Howard and Garnett. But we’ve also seen the emergence of 6-10 power forwards (Stoudemire, Josh Smith, C. Anderson) turning back shots at a torrid pace.
The next potentially great NBA shot blocker resides at Mississippi State and his name is Jarvis Varnado. Averaging 4.7 rejections per game this season and over 4.6 per contest since he was a sophomore, the 6-9 power forward finished his collegiate career with 564 blocks and is currently the all-time NCAA leader in this category. A terrific defender all around, Varnado is a high riser with impeccable timing and a nose for helping from the weak side on defense.
Jarvis’s offensive game needs some work, but his increasing points per game average each season indicates that he has both the ability and the work ethic to improve around the hoop. Projected as a late first or early second round pick, Varnado will have the opportunity to develop his low post moves and jump shot among some of the game’s greatest shot blockers, whose names his will one day be mentioned alongside.