Donald Jackson can’t wait to text the world with these three words: “Sidney is cleared.”
The attorney for Mississippi State freshman Renardo Sidney is hopeful that the NCAA will soon conclude its amateurism evaluation of the 6-foot-10 McDonald’s All-American and that the final ruling will clear him for action.
Jackson told the Daily Journal on Thursday that he had expected a “status report” from Alex Hammond, who’s handling the case for the NCAA eligibility center, as early as this past Monday. A change in eligibility leadership, however, might have delayed that.
Bill Saum, to whom Hammond reported, is no longer the director.
However, Jackson is confident that a decision will be made before Nov. 13, when No. 18 MSU opens the 2009-10 season at home against Rider. Sidney’s already sat out the Bulldogs’ exhibition opener, an 82-54 win over Oklahoma City last week.
State plays another exhibition game Saturday, against Georgetown, Ky.
“He said that he was firmly aware of the time frame that we were operating on,” Jackson said of Hammond. “I’ve been real critical of the process, but I would say at this point that Alex is making an effort to try to move this thing along. Now whether or not that effort flows uphill to his supervisor, I couldn’t tell you that.”
It’s not known who has replaced or will replace Saum, who’s tangled with Jackson in other eligibility battles. An e-mail to NCAA spokesman Bob Williams was not answered.
The NCAA reviewed Sidney family deposit records a week ago, and Jackson said there might be follow-up interviews stemming from that. Jackson said he has no problem with that but feels the NCAA has more than enough information to render a decision – a decision that will put Sidney on the court for MSU.
“My goal is at some point in the not-too-distant future to send out a three-word e-mail or text message, with those three words being, ‘Sidney is cleared,'” Jackson said. “I’ve said from the very beginning, there’s nothing here, and I think the review of these documents last week confirmed what I said all along.”
Osby off the bench
– Romero Osby isn’t a starter yet, but the sophomore is being counted on heavily by MSU men’s coach Rick Stansbury.
Osby, a 6-8 forward from Meridian, will often be the first man off the bench this season. While the starting five is as solid as they come, bench play will again be a key factor for the SEC Western Division favorites.
“Sometimes they’re going to have down games, and I think the bench has a big opportunity this year to showcase their skill and just be able to help them any way we can, especially in rebounding and defense,” Osby said.
Osby’s role, besides providing that rebounding and defense, plus some scoring, is mentoring the freshmen expected to contribute, guys like Wendell Lewis and Shaun Smith.
“Coach Stansbury already gets on me about being a leader by talking to the freshmen,” Osby said. “He’s kind of telling me to be in their ear, not necessarily out loud, but pulling them aside and getting in their ear, trying to help them.”
Osby knows how tough it is as a freshman, but he held his own last year, averaging 4.1 points and 2.6 rebounds per game for the SEC Tournament champs. An all-state pick at Northeast Lauderdale, he’s not your typical sub.
“I have the mindset that I’m a starter, because you never know what’ll happen,” he said. “I have to go in there with a starter’s mentality.”
Women gear up
– MSU’s women will open exhibition play on Sunday against Arkansas-Monticello. Tipoff at Humphrey Coliseum is 2 p.m.
They’ll be without point guard Marneshia Richard, who was trying to return from last year’s leg injury only to tear her left Achilles’ tendon early in preseason drills.
Her absence puts a greater leadership load on senior guard Alexis Rack, but the Lady Bulldogs return four starters from last year’s squad, which started 11-0 and reached the second round of the NCAA tournament.
“I think every team needs a leader, but I feel we can come together as a team on the floor and in practice, where we don’t need it all the time,” said Rack, a first-team preseason All-SEC selection.
Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal