By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – The countdown ends tonight.
It’s been nearly two years since Renardo Sidney last played an organized basketball game against someone other than his teammates. At 7 p.m. today, in his hometown of Jackson, Mississippi State’s 6-foot-10, 270-pound sophomore will take the court against Belhaven in an exhibition game.
“There’s been a countdown here since he’s been on campus,” senior forward Kodi Augustus said. “Yeah, definitely, everybody’s ready.”
Sidney was a McDonald’s All-American at Fairfax (Calif.) Senior High, but missed all last season and the first nine games of this year after the NCAA determined he had received impermissible benefits in high school and lied to investigators during the probe.
“I woke up with butterflies; I’ve still got butterflies,” Sidney said Tuesday. “Like I said, there’s a lot of people expecting a lot out of me. It’s going to be real fun to see what I do.”
Sidney said he’s been told he’ll start and play for as long as he can hold up. His conditioning isn’t where he wants it, but he’s been doing the P90X workout in the mornings with coach Rick Stansbury, and lots of running in the evenings.
His focus tonight: Stay in the post. In an intrasquad scrimmage prior to the season, Sidney was easily frustrated and settled for too many outside shots.
“I’m too dominant,” he said. “I don’t think nobody in the nation or the world can guard me on the block.”
For now, though, he’s just trying to contribute some extra points and energy for a team that on Saturday begins a road trip that takes the Bulldogs to the Bahamas, Hawaii, and Las Vegas.
Sidney’s regular-season debut will be Saturday against Virginia Tech in the Battle of Atlantis in Nassau, Bahamas.
He’ll beef up a frontcourt that hasn’t produced a lot of points lately.
“People will start doubling up, it’ll open up the post and the perimeter game, make everybody better,” Augustus said. “We’ll just play off of him.”
Sidney said he expects about 25 family and friends at the Mississippi Coliseum tonight. He moved away from Jackson prior to his sophomore year of high school.
Perhaps that will calm the butterflies.
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571