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.
Talented Mississippi State freshman Renardo Sidney has been cleared academically by the NCAA Eligibility Center and on Monday enrolled for fall classes.
Although he isn’t yet eligible to compete, the 6-foot-10, 260-pound forward/center out of Fairfax High School in Los Angeles is allowed to participate in individual and conditioning workouts.
“We are happy to get Renardo academically admitted,” Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said. “But we know this is just the first step. Now, he has to get his amateurism status resolved.”
Don Jackson, Sidney’s Montgomery, Ala.-based attorney, told the Associated Press that investigators have yet to offer any proof the family did anything wrong.
The attorney told the NCAA he had requested income tax returns from Sidney’s parents and his grandparents, and added that those requests could come this week. He said the NCAA also requested additional information last week.
“The amateurism issue, that could conceivably linger on another month or so. I can’t imagine why it would quite candidly because here have been no violations here,” Jackson told the AP.
Sidney verbally committed to USC in February but never signed a Letter of Intent.
Both USC and UCLA reportedly backed off over concerns over his amateurism status, specifically how his family paid rent for a $1.2 million home near Fairfax.
“We are pleased about Renardo’s opportunity to enroll as a student at Mississippi State, and we will continue to fully cooperate with the NCAA as we resolve his amateur status,” MSU athletics director Greg Byrne said. “As we said from the beginning, Mississippi State has pledged to do its due diligence in this matter and provide full cooperation from all parties involved, while continuing to keep in mind our first priority is to protect the integrity of our university.”
A native Mississippian who moved to California in 2006, Sidney averaged 23.4 points, 10.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots this past season in leading the Lions to a 27-5 ledger.
In March, he was selected to the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Select Team, while in mid-April he was tabbed co-MVP at the Jordan Brand Classic at Madison Square Garden.
If he becomes eligible he would join a massive front line that also includes 6-9 Jarvis Varnado and could include 7-1 John Riek, who has also yet to be cleared.
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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.