About a month ago, USC looked like they had the makings of a Final Four contender. They were returning basically everyone from a team that had overcome an injury-filled season to win the Pac-10 tournament and give Michigan State all they could handle in the second round of the dance.
I mean, look at this starting line-up - Taj Gibson, Renardo Sidney, Demar Derozan, Daniel Hackett, and Dwight Lewis.
No wonder Tim Floyd decided to pass on the Arizona job. During the press conference in which he announced his intentions to stay with the Trojans, Floyd said
But there is something really special about building your own traditions, your own histories and doing it with a group of guys that you love. ... I have never been more excited to be a Trojan.Those days must seem like so long ago.
First, Gibson, Derozan, and Hackett all declared for the Draft, and all three have signed with (or have every intention of signing with) an agent. Now, Sidney, who is a five-star recruit (#16 by Rivals, #7 by Scout), has backed out of his verbal commitment to the Trojans. From the LA Times:
the source close to the Sidney family said school officials expressed concern about signing the player 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 said without elaborating why that could happen. "Neither side wanted an impending investigation hanging over them."
Sidney's recruitment has had a number of these snags. Sidney transferred to Fairfax High in LA three years from Mississippi, and for a time it looked like UCLA was the favorite to land the 6'11" big man. But two days before he was to announce his college decision, UCLA unexpectedly dropped out of the chase. Most speculated that it was because he had not yet received an SAT score that would allow him to be eligible.
Now it seems as if Sidney is all but going to Mississippi State. While it is obvious that Sidney is a talented young man, is he going to be worth the risk? In a word, yes. The Bulldogs return basically everyone from a team that made a run to the SEC tourney title, and teaming Sidney with Jarvis Varnado (assuming he pulls his name out of the draft) gives MSU arguably the best front line in the conference.