Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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RU's Pettis Transferring; Varnado Staying at Miss. State
Rutgers sophomore guard Earl Pettis is the latest Scarlet Knight to leave the program.
Sources say Pettis, a Philadelphia native, is considering La Salle, Temple and Rider. Pettis’ older brother played at Rider several years ago.
“Earl and I had a meeting in which he expressed his desire to return home to Philadelphia,” said Rutgers head coach Fred Hill. “After discussing the matter with Earl and his family, we support his decision and will aid the process. Earl is a tremendous young man who has been a valuable member of the program for the past two seasons. We wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.”
Pettis played 20 games last season and averaged 4.6 points and 2.5 rebounds in 17.6 minutes.
With the additions of freshman wing Dane Miller of Rush-Henrietta and Florida transfer Jonathan Mitchell, Pettis perhaps saw that his playing time would diminish.
Rutgers still has only three pure guards in Corey Chandler, Mike Rosario and Mike Coburn, none of whom is a Big East-level point guard.
The Knights are involved with James Beatty of Miami Dade College and have yet to hear his decision.
Pettis follows freshman big man Christian Morris out the door at Rutgers. Morris transferred early in the year to Norfolk State. Both will have to sit out a year per NCAA regulations.
VARNADO STAYING AT MISSISSIPPI STATE
Mississippi State is going to be loaded in the frontcourt next season.
The Bulldogs already landed 6-10 Renardo Sidney and 7-2 John Riek.
Now, All-SEC forward Jarvis Varnado has decided to return for his senior year rather than enter the NBA draft.
“I feel like I wasn’t ready for the NBA,” the two-time reigning SEC defensive player of the year said. “Another year in college can only help my game, and I’m really excited about this team. I’m looking forward to coming back and playing with these guys another year. I think we have a chance to make some noise, and not just in the SEC. This was a decision I prayed a lot about, and I feel this is what God wants me to do.”
On April 27, the 6-foot-9, 210-pound Brownsville, Tenn., native announced he was going to test the NBA waters but not hire an agent in order to retain his eligibility.
Now, he has a chance to come back for an opportunity to win a fourth title. Already, he’s been a part of two Western Division crowns and an SEC tournament championship.
“We have a chance to do something really special, and I want to be a part of that,” he said.
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 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.
But where he has made a name for himself is blocking shots, a category he has led the nation in the past two years.
Last season, Varnado swatted a school and SEC single-season record 170 shots to give him 394 for his career. As a result, he enters the 2009-10 campaign 18 blocks shy of tying former LSU great Shaquille O’Neal’s SEC career mark of 412, while he needs just 141 more to tie the NCAA record of 535 set by Louisiana-Monroe’s Wojciech Mydra (1998-2002).
“We’re obviously very excited Jarvis is coming back,” MSU coach Rick Stansbury said. “I know this was a tough decision for him and his family, but at the same time, it’s a well-informed decision, one we all felt was best for Jarvis. This was a process he needed to go through, and I think it will make him a better player. I think how he handled this process and weighed his options says a lot about the type of person he is. Now, he has a chance to do something that’s really special and achieve a feat no other player in the history of the college game has never done.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.