Former Coach’s Advice to Sidney: ‘Get in Shape, Stay Out of Trouble’

If Wayne Brent were in Renardo Sidney‘s prodigious shoes, he knows exactly what he’d do.

“I’m 6-10, I’m going to get in shape, I’m going to the league. I don’t want to be in school. I can’t speak for him,” said Brent, who coached Sidney his freshman year in high school (Piney Woods in Jackson) and remains close to the Mississippi State sophomore.

Sidney, however, is remaining in school and will return to action Saturday after having his suspension lifted Monday. (Elgin Bailey, as you know by now, is transferring.) Considering what happened in Hawaii – a nationally televised fistfight – and considering all the issues Sidney’s had, it wouldn’t have been surprising if he’d just left school and starting preparing for the 2011 NBA Draft.

That’s what Brent would do. But that’s not what Brent, now the coach at Callaway High School, told Sidney to do.

“The only advice we gave him was to get in shape and stay out of trouble,” Brent said.

The coach has done his part to help with the former directive. Sidney spent much of his extended holiday break working out at Callaway, and Brent said he was in good spirits. They didn’t talk about the suspension or anything like that.

“He knows that his biggest thing is he’s got to get himself in better shape,” Brent said. “That’s what we were in there trying to make sure, that when he did get back on the floor, that he was actually in shape as far as getting up and down the floor and rebounding and stuff. Because he’s got all the skills, all the tools to be whatever he wants to be, it’s just getting his body in some shape and being able to run up and down the floor.”

Sidney has had conditioning issues. He kept cramping up in the Dec. 15 exhibition game against Belhaven, the first action of his MSU career. He got a little more playing time against Virginia Tech three days later but was just OK.

He looked better against San Diego, when he scored 19 points in 20 minutes. And being in good shape, Brent said, is what will help Sidney in the draft, whenever he enters.

“I’m judging him by what I saw against Belhaven,” Brent said. “He was in better shape when he left here than he was at Belhaven, getting up and down the floor better. He showed you flashes of, I can really, really be good, I’ve just got to get in better conditioning.”

• Sidney’s reinstatement – and Bailey’s departure – has drawn some fire from the national scene.

ESPN.com’s Pat Forde says Sidney’s ability to produce is the main reason he’s not gone. “One guy is more expendable than the other,” he wrote.

Jeff GoodmanRick Stansbury had a chance to make a statement.

Matt Norlander of CBSSports.com calls the situation a double-edged sword.

On PTI, Michael Wilbon called MSU’s basketball and football teams a joke. Why he lumped football in there is beyond me.