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.
Those are just some of the words used to describe Renardo Sidney, Mississippi State’s 6-foot-10, 290-pound junior forward.
Sidney and the Bulldogs will be on display Thursday and Friday in the 2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden. Mississippi State faces No. 19 Texas A&M Thursday, and then either St. John’s or Arizona Friday.
Sidney is expected to play after missing Mississippi State’s 80-65 win Saturday over South Alabama because of a groin injury, a team spokesman told SNY.tv.
“Hopefully, we can have everybody here by Thursday night,” Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury said Monday on a conference call.
With Sidney out of the South Alabama game, Mississippi State pushed the tempo more and center Arnett Moultrie poured in a career-high 28 points and grabbed 13 boards. The UTEP transfer is averaging 16.3 points and 12.3 rebounds through three games.
“Against South Alabama, they played faster without having [Sidney],” Texas A&M associate head coach Glenn Cyprien said. “Obviously, he’s a great talent for them. And in the long term they’re probably better with him. But they are a different team to prepare for with him and without him.”
Stansbury said that there had “never [been] a question” about Sidney’s “skill level” or “potential.”
“His biggest thing is, his attitude has been much better,” the coach added.
A year ago, Sidney was suspended on two occasions, once for insubordination during practice and a second time because he was involved in a televised fight with former teammate Elgin Bailey in the stands at the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu.
Sidney finished the year averaging 14.2 points and 7.6 rebounds.
This summer Sidney spent two months in Houston training with former NBA coach John Lucas, reportedly losing 23 pounds, and then returned a second time, missing the team’s trip to Amsterdam as a result.
Seton Hall senior forward Herb Pope was one of 14 college and more than 20 NBA players who trained with Lucas in Houston said Sidney was more talented than any college player he’d ever faced.
“I agree with that,” Pope said.
Lucas told Andy Katz of ESPN.com that Sidney was immensely talented, but was battling some motivation and discipline issues.
“I had never seen the kid play and I had no idea what to expect,” Lucas said in July. “We’ve had two or three blowups. I’ve had to tell him to take his fat ass out there and get to work. I’m helping him grow as a professional.
“Somewhere down the line he lost some motivation. When kids get ranked real high early I think they think they’ve got it made. When he wanted to come back I was shocked. This isn’t easy. He wants to do it. He wants to get more weight off him. He doesn’t have to do it.”
Still, since the summer, Sidney appears to have put some of the weight back on, something which remains a concern for Stansbury.
“His biggest thing again is just keeping him in condition enough where he can play the amount of minutes you need him to play or play the minutes you’re in there and be efficient at those minutes,” Stansbury said.
“It’s better than it was but he’s got to keep making progress.”
(Photo courtesy AP)
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.