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.
Renardo Sidney signed with Mississippi State on Thursday.
The 6-foot-11, 250-pound Sidney, a native of Jackson, Miss., is rated the No. 5 power forward in the Class of 2009. He verbally committed to USC in February but never signed a Letter of Intent.
“It’s good to be coming back home,” said Sidney, who averaged 23.4 points and 10.6 rebounds this past season at Los Angeles Fairfax High. “A lot of my family hasn’t been able to see me play the last three years and it will be good to be around them again. Mississippi State is a great school with a great program, and I”m coming in to help them win a national championship and build a bond with my new teammates.”
Sidney becomes the third elite prospect in the senior class to switch school allegiances, following DeMarcus Cousins (Memphis to Kentucky) and Xavier Henry (Memphis to Kansas).
A McDonald’s All-American, Sidney was also named co-MVP of the Jordan Brand Classic at Madison Square Garden when he scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half.
“We are excited to have ‘Shug’ coming back home where his roots are,” MSU coach Rick Stansbury said. “It’s very obvious he brings a wealth of talent and versatility to our program. He has great parents and grandparents, and we are excited to have them join our family, too.”
Sidney left Mississippi after his freshmen season when the state’s high school association ruled him ineligible to play for a private school there because he lived outside the designated area.
He helped lead Fairfax to the California state semifinals in both his junior and senior seasons, losing by one point each time.
“Renardo was a phenomenal player for us,” Fairfax coach Harvey Kitani said. “During my 28 years, we’ve had five or six McDonald’s All-Americans, and Renardo ranks up there with the best of them. He possesses extraordinary skills for a young man his size. His best basketball is still ahead of him, though. It’s going to be fun to watching him play because he has a great feel for the game. He’s a great passer who understands the game.”
The Los Angeles Times reported that Sidney had achieved a qualifying SAT score. A student-athlete becomes eligible based on a combination of his standardized test score and GPA.
The Times also cited a source close to the Sidney family who said school officials had concerns about signing Sidney while an NCAA investigation into former USC stars Reggie Bush, a Heisman Trophy winner in football, and O.J. Mayo, a first-round NBA pick last year, was still open.
Sidney’s father, Renardo Sr., “didn’t want his son to be the scapegoat for those allegations,” the source told the paper. “Neither side wanted an impending investigation hanging over them.”
USC basketball Coach Tim Floyd and Athletic Director Mike Garrett did not offer a comment to the Times.
Sidney initially appeared headed to UCLA, but that school stopped recruiting him also.
(Photo courtesy LA Times)
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.