Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Renardo Sidney: Still ineligible

Last week, the LA Times reported that Renardo Sidney (you remember him, don't you?) still had his amateur status under review by the NCAA. Apparently, the current issue is that Sidney's family had yet to turn over information regarding the collateral used to acquire one of (at least) two loans the family received.

NCAA rules strictly forbid "reputation or skill or pay-back potential as a professional athlete" to be used in order for an amateur athlete to receive a loan.

Renardo Sidney may never set foot on a college basketball court.
(photo credit: LA Times)

In the article, the LA Times cited a Mississippi State official as saying that the loan "could be an issue" and that it was "50-50" that Sidney would ever play for Rick Stansbury's Bulldogs.

But this news is a week old, which is like 50 in blog years. Why do I (and, more importantly, why should you) care?

There has been a bit of grumbling about whether or not Stansbury made a good decision when he signed Sidney. Personally, I believe he did.

With Sidney in their line-up, the Bulldogs would immediately become not only the huge favorite to win the SEC West, but would probably start creeping up onto the list of Final Four contenders. This is a team that returns their top five scorers from last season, which includes a young, talented, and deep back court. Combining Sidney, a big man known for his ability to score in a variety of ways, with defensive stalwart Jarvis Varnado gives Stansbury a coach's dream tandem up front.

That is a huge reward for what seems to be a situation with very little risk to Stansbury and his program.

Mississippi State began recruiting Sidney very late in the process, and really only became a serious contender to land the Mickey D's all-american after USC became the second of the two SoCal schools to pass on him. That means that they probably were not involved with him while he racked up a slew of possible NCAA violations, jeopardizing his eligibility.

So the worst case scenario is that Sidney is found ineligible and never suits up for the Bulldogs. That leaves them exactly where they would have been if Sidney hadn't signed. Best case? Sidney is granted eligibility and helps lead the Bulldogs to their first Final Four since the Dontae' Jones era.

Yes, there is an argument to be made about the type of teammate Sidney will be, the distractions that could be caused by Sidney's eligibility remaining in question, and the fact that Sidney is clearly a one-and-done guy (are those ever good for a program?). But this is how the world of college basketball operates under the current rules. For the basketball schools not named Kentucky or North Carolina or Michigan State, going out and renting (which is essentially what happens) an all-world talent for a year is an easy way to .

Like it or not, this will probably be the best team Stansbury will ever field in Starksville.

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