ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 11: Renardo Sidney #1 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs leaves the court dejected after loosing to the Vanderbilt Commodores during the quarterfinals of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at Georgia Dome on March 11, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Commodores defeated the Bulldogs 87 to 81. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Coming off a tumultuous first year in Starkville that came on the heels of a season of ineligibility, the saga of Renardo Sidney took yet another odd twist on the road to becoming an NBA stud. Just weeks before a scheduled mid-August trip to Europe, the Mississippi State sophomore has opted not to join his teammates abroad, instead deciding to stay in Houston and continue training with former NBA player John Lucas.
Peruse the web for fact gathering, and you'll get conflicting reports as to whether it was Sidney's or head coach Rick Stansbury's decision to keep Renardo stateside, and also when Sidney will officially return to campus to show off his improved skill set and toned body (he's allegedly lost 23 pounds this summer, about half way to meeting his target weight).
A few weeks ago I predicted that Sidney would not miss a game for something non-injury related next season, and morph into a major force in the SEC. That still may be true, but it remains clear to me that college, nor teambuilding, is a primary concern for this kid. The NCAA allows college basketball teams to take one trip abroad every four years. This - if you're scoring at home - is the trip of a lifetime, and an opportunity to accelerate the chemistry process for the winter. For Sidney to blow it off to focus on self-improvement, rather than team-improvement, suggests to me once again that he's nothing but a "me first" guy.
Sure I could be just a dick looking for something to write about in mid-July. Perhaps Sidney truly is progressing fabulously under Lucas and needs a few more weeks to feel comfortable about his playing weight. But on the surface it reeks of selfishness.
Either way, this latest bump can be something we all shrug off if Sidney does play to form this upcoming season. As a Boston Red Sox fan, I reference Jacoby Ellsbury's rib injury last season. Fans in New England criticized the centerfielder for choosing to rehab from a rib injury in Arizona all of last summer, instead of in Boston. In 2011, he's arguably the best lead-off hitter in the American League; once again beloved.
If Sidney doesn't want fans to believe this inhibits the Bulldogs chances at grabbing a spot in next year's NCAA Tournament, he can silence the haters by simply meeting expectations and keeping the Bulldogs atop the SEC West.