Biography: The all-time NCAA leader in blocked shots with 564 as well as a three-time SEC defensive player of the year, there is no questioning Varnado's defensive credentials. How much offense he can provide, though, may determine if he is worthy of a late first-round selection or an early second-round pick. He averaged team highs of 13.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 4.7 blocks as a senior, yet Varnado left points on the floor because he still cannot finish with his left hand and he's a poor free-throw shooter - 61.0 percent as a senior and 59.5 percent for his collegiate career. To his credit, Varnado has been feverishly working on developing a mid-range game to demonstrate an ability to consistently hit 15-foot jumpers as well as be available on the pick-and-roll. For all his shot-blocking prowess thanks to his 7-foot-4 wingspan and exceptional timing, Varnado at best is a mediocre defender when it comes to man-to-man outside the paint, something he must improve since he will play power forward in the pros. Additionally, Varnado must add some bulk to his wiry frame to avoid being pounded by bigger forwards in the low post. He will need to be consistently aggressive and learn how to defend against the pump-fake better. However, Varnado hustles hard and often finds a way to get his hands on the ball for rebounds - his average steadily increased in his three seasons as a full-time starter from 7.8 to 10.3 per game. Varnado is the only player in NCAA history with at least 1,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 blocks.
John W. McDonough/SI
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