STARKVILLE — Renardo Sidney’s three-year stint with the Mississippi State University men’s basketball program is over.
The school confirmed the junior center has signed with an agent and will forego his final season of eligibility in an attempt to play professional basketball.
“I appreciate Mississippi State giving me an opportunity to play, but I feel it’s time for me to move on,” Sidney said in a statement released by the university. “I’m grateful to all the administrators, coaching staff, and the fans for their support during my time at Mississippi State. I’m entering the draft to follow my dream of playing in the NBA and to help my family.”
Sidney, who is at the IMG Academy camp in Florida training for potential workouts in front of NBA scouts, isn’t projected to be selected in the 2012 NBA draft, according to NBADraft.net. ESPN.com draft analyst Chad Ford doesn’t list Sidney in his top 50 prospects.
Sidney’s tenure at MSU began with him on the bench for a season and a half after the NCAA suspended him following an 11-month investigation. The NCAA ruled Sidney, a native of Jackson, lose a year of eligibility due to unethical conduct. He also had to repay the $11,800 in benefits he received to a charity.
Sidney was suspended twice at MSU, including once after he traded punches in a fight in the stands with teammate Elgin Baylor at a holiday tournament in December 2010 in Hawaii.
Instead of joining the MSU team on its basketball tour of Europe this
summer, Sidney visited former NBA coach John Lucas in Houston,
where he worked on conditioning and anger issues with counselors at Lucas’ camp. This season, Lucas was seen regularly at MSU games at Humphrey Coliseum to counsel Sidney at the request of then-MSU coach Rick Stansbury.
Sidney has signed a contract with Rogue Sports, an entertainment firm that represents professional athletes.
Sources close to the men’s basketball program confirmed MSU mailed a withdrawal form to Sidney’s mother, Patricia, during spring break because they were unsure of a current address for Sidney.
Sidney averaged 9.7 points and 5.2 rebounds in 29 games this season. He was the first McDonald’s All-American to sign and to play for MSU.
Sidney used his Twitter account minutes after a 101-96 double overtime loss to the University of Massachusetts in the National Invitation Tournament earlier this month to post, “I’m out!!” He left the arena before reporters were allowed to be granted access to the open locker room.
“I’m not going to respond, so have a ball,” Sidney tweeted an hour
after what was his final college game. “I’ve heard it all.”
Sidney averaged 14.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in 2010-11. He scored in double figures in scoring in all but three games after returning from the NCAA suspension.
“I know a lot of my peers in the business are of the opinion that people don’t change, and the historical evidence has mostly proved them correct,” Sporting News college basketball analyst Mike DeCourcy said last October. “However, I tend to have sympathy for Renardo because a lot of his past and background were things that were not of his making.”
DeVille Smith withdraws from MSU
Hours before the Sidney announcement, MSU officials announced freshman guard DeVille Smith withdrew from school and is no longer a member of the men’s basketball team.
The former Jackson Callaway High School standout appeared in 26 games and averaged 4.2 points and 1.6 rebounds.
The 5-foot-10 point guard, who was a four-star recruit, according to multiple scouting services, suffered two undisclosed medical issues that forced him to leave the program during this season.
MSU compliance officials confirmed to The Dispatch that Smith had to earn just six credits this spring semester to leave school eligible and allow MSU to retain one of the two valued points according to the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate percentage.
The Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported Smith’s high school coach Wayne Brent said Smith was in class Monday at MSU when he heard the news of his withdrawal. However, MSU’s team spokesperson and the school’s compliance office confirmed to The Dispatch the information was incorrect, stating Smith had signed the withdrawal form March 19 ending his stay at the university.
MSU’s compliance office told The Dispatch it is confident that even with the school possibly dealing with Sidney and Smith losing both the
retention and the second point for leaving school while not eligible, MSU can have an acceptable APR score if the rest of the senior class graduates on time.
Smith had a career-high 25 points came in the SEC-opening loss Jan. 7 at the University of Arkansas. He also was fourth on the team with 49 assists and fifth with 20 steals.
“I want to get to a point where we can bring him in and we feel comfortable with him, where you can get some consistency from him offensively and defensive,” Stansbury said of Smith after the Arkansas game. “Where you can continue to make those adjustments with him. I think that’s our challenge with him. Different kind of defenses, man or zone or different kind of zones, require different types of attacks. You have to adjust to that on the fly.”
The graduation of senior guards Dee Bost and Brian Bryant and Smith’s departure mean MSU has no returning experience at point guard will be on next season’s roster.