In another move to ameliorate the Miami Heat's defense and rebounding woes, team management has sought out 24-year-old forward Jarvis Varnado. First reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, it seems Miami will first sign Varnado to a 10-day contract.
Standing 6'9" and weighing in at 230 pounds with an enormous wingspan of 7'4", Varnado was originally drafted by the Heat in the second round of the 2010 NBA draft. While it is seemingly possible Miami didn't add him to the roster due to his inexperience, and with their focus on a title run with a roster of veterans, it appears the Heat are willing to gamble on the young big man.
He bears a likeness to Serge Ibaka or DeAndre Jordan in that he has excellent timing on defense and doesn't leave his feet until his opponent does. This is an infinitely important skill, as it allows solid rotations on defense and less foul calls when the defender is caught in the air and the offender can lean in to create contact.
Varnado is not a household name, but he shattered collegiate records during his time with Mississippi State. He is the NCAA Division I all-time leader in blocked shots, passing former NBA players such as Alonzo Mourning, Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan. He was also named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in three consecutive years.
There is no question Varnado has retained his talent, as he averaged 14 points, 10 rebounds and 3.9 blocks with D-League affiliate Sioux Falls through 10 games this season. He was later signed by the Boston Celtics to a 10-day contract, where he put up 1.2 points, 0.6 rebounds and zero blocks in 3.6 minutes per game. It should be noted Varnado only participated in five games and did not receive solid minutes. He was waived by Boston and can be signed by Miami once the forward clears waivers.
Varnado has been thrown around the league for the past few seasons, even playing overseas at one point. The Heat are somewhat desperate for an interior presence and this young man from Tennessee may be their answer. Miami is already looking into signing former Nuggets center Chris Andersen, and combined with Varnado, the duo would give Miami some serious energy, hustle, defense, rebounding and shot-blocking off the bench.
You can view a montage of Jarvis Varnado's college highlights through this YouTube link, or simply search "Jarvis Varnado highlights."
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