On Apr. 24, 2009, Renardo Sidney signed a national letter of intent to play at Mississippi State and was on top of the prep hoops world.
He towered over Lilliputian opponents, averaging 26.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game in his senior year at Fairfax High in Los Angeles. Sidney was named a McDonald’s All-American and was tabbed as the fifth-best player in the 2009 class by scout.com.
Sidney, whose nickname is Suge, appeared to be a one-and-done player, but in light of an ongoing NCAA investigation into his eligibility, his short-term NBA future now appears murky, at best.
The freshman forward has been forced to watch the Bulldogs to a 3-1 record, including a loss to unseeded Rider.
In the best-case scenario, Sidney is cleared to rejoin the Bulldogs following their trip to the South Padre Island Invitational this weekend, but the 260-pounder would still probably need a few weeks to get back into game shape.
Worst-case, he is ruled ineligible.
NBA scouts are by nature as skeptical as Robert DeNiro in Meet the Parents. Even now, Sidney is listed as only a late second-round pick by draftexpress.com. If he were forced to sit out the entire season, he could see his ranking slip even further, as questions about his conditioning and maturity arise.
This scenario presents Bulldogs’ head coach Rick Stansbury with an opportunity to try to lure Sidney back to Starkville next season.
If Stansbury can convince him that a year of playing in the SEC will help him move up draft boards, then maybe Sidney will return. Of course, there is possible that Sidney has decided to forgo the draft altogether until he earns his degree, in which case the point is moot.
If Stansbury does manage to retain his coveted recruit for another season, it will be an even bigger coup than when he originally signed him.
After being spurned by the likes of Monta Ellis, Travis Outlaw and Al Jefferson (who had all signed prenuptial agreements with the Bulldogs, before eloping to the NBA), and with all due respect to Jamont Gordon and Charles Rhodes, it appeared Mississippi State had finally landed their Neon Boudreaux.
Sidney only signed with the Bulldogs after he was released from a commitment to play at USC.
He was set to sign with the Trojans last spring, when both sides suddenly, and inexplicably, backed out of their dalliance.
However, there was speculation that the Trojans’ reluctance to sign him was a result of the fallout from the recruiting scandals (involving OJ Mayo and DeMar DeRozan) that rocked the school’s athletic department, which led to the firing of then-men’s basketball coach Tim Floyd.
ESPN.com’s Andy Katz reports that the NCAA has declared Sidney’s case “under review.” He goes on to report that the Sidney family is complying with the NCAA investigation into their financial records, according to the family’s lawyer.
If he is cleared, Sidney will elevate the Bulldogs' play on the court. Mississippi State should also have suspended freshman John Riek back for the Dec. 16 game against Wright State. The Bulldogs, with imposing frontcourt of Sidney, Riek and All-America candidate Jarvis Varnado, can still make a run in March.
But, senior Varnado, who recently broke Shaquille O’Neal’s all-time SEC blocks record, will be gone after this season and Stansbury hopes Sidney will be around to fill his shoes.