Renardo Sidney, a 6-foot-8 ½, 225-pound freshman who was declared ineligible by the state association at the beginning of the season, will have to wait until his sophomore year to play in his first high school game at Piney Woods High (Miss.).
The 16-year-old Sidney, who emerged as the top freshman this past summer largely due to his versatility, is able to practice with the team – but is just a cheerleader at game time.
``The ruling was that he was 6.8 miles over the limit," said Piney Woods High and former Ole Miss assistant coach Wayne Brent. "He needed to be within 20 miles."
Brent said that Piney Woods, a boarding school, has kids from Africa, Paris and 4-5 in total from Jackson.
``The reason is because he was such a high-profile kid," Brent said. ``Other people don't want him to play."
``The rule also means that every ninth grader in our school can't play," he added. "We've got five guys out because they are all from Jackson."
``He just got a bad deal on this one," Brent continued. "But now the season's halfway over with. He's accepted it and can see the light at the end of the tunnel."
The only opportunity Brent has had to watch Sidney is in practice, but that's been more than enough to reiterate his assessment on his future star.
``He's definitely one of the high-major guys," Brent said. "I've never seen a kid in the ninth grade who can do some of the things Renardo is able to do. He can rebound, pull-up, shoot the three, get to the basket. He can play anywhere from the point to the five. He can change the game. I've never seen a kid this young impact the game like him. He's a difference-maker."
``He has the same potential of a Tracy McGrady or a LeBron," Brent added. "As a ninth-grader, there's no way that McGrady or LeBron were as good as Renardo. But the key will be what he does from here on out – whether he stays on pace."