Sidney didn't play a single game at Piney Woods (Miss.) a year ago. That'll be the case again this season, but for a different reason.
Sidney, widely considered as the top player in the Class of 2009, was forced to sit his entire freshman campaign after he and five of his teammates at Piney Woods were ruled ineligible for "illegal recruiting practices" by the state association.
Piney Woods will remain on probation this season and won't be eligible for the playoffs, but Sidney won't be around, anyway. Sidney will take his skills to the west coast and team with Malik Story at Artesia High (Calif.).
``I just needed to move," Sidney said. "Getting out of Mississippi is the best thing for me."
``Everything last year kind of made me sad and I need to get away," Sidney added. "Our school can't play for a ring and I want to win a state title."
The 6-foot-9, 240-pound Sidney has played in a pair of tournaments with the Southern Cal All-Stars – giving Pat Barrett's group arguably the best player in each of the 2007, 2008 and 2009 classes with Love, Brandon Jennings and Sidney. The squad also boasts Duke-bound Taylor King, USC commit Daniel Hackett and Story, who has also committed to the Trojans.
``We're stacked," Sidney said. "When one great player goes off the floor, another comes onto it."
Sidney, who turned 16 this past December, was the MVP of a tournament in Portland recently with Pat Barrett's group.
``If he keeps his head on straight, he can stay number one in the class," said Wayne Brent, his former coach at Piney Woods that also has experience at the University of Mississippi. "He's 6-9, runs the court like a deer, has a natural feel for the game and has a lot of God-given talent." ``He can do everything," Barrett added. "He can play all five positions and if so far ahead of Tyson Chandler at the same stage, it's not even funny." At one time, he told Scout.com that he was almost certain to commit to Alabama. Now the Crimson Tide have taken a back seat.
``I don't think I'm going to go to Alabama," Sidney said. "I want to go to UCLA or USC. I've visited both and really like them a lot."
Sidney wanted to get a chance to prove that he was the best player in the Class of 2009 by going up against New Yorker Lance Stephenson at ABCD this week.
``I wanted to play against him," Sidney said. "But he's at adidas. I wanted to get him, but he's gone. I know people are going to tey and come at me, so I'm got to be on my game this week."
Kevin Love, C – It's not often that a guy puts up 29 points in a game at ABCD – especially a big man. However, Love is playing with his summer point guard, Brandon Jennings, and he just flat-out dominated in an early game against Clint Chapman, Renardo Sidney & Co. He showed his versatility by knocking down a trio of trifectas, put the ball on the floor and also converted numerous baskets in the paint. In the nightcap, he had a mortal 16 points and 13 boards against J.J. Hickson.
O.J. Mayo, PG – The top-ranked player in the land struggled in the afternoon game and finished with 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting, but was much better at night – finishing with 18 points and 4 assists. Hardly dominating performances that will cement his standing as the No. 1 player in the class.
Jon Leuer, PF – The rail-thin big man out of Minnesota not only held his own in his first taste at the ABCD, but excelled. He's skilled and made shots from the perimeter. He'll need to bulk up and get a little tougher in the paint, but Leuer has a chance – and the high-majors will continue to watch.
Jeff Jones, SG – The former Maryland commit went in with a back injury and just hasn't found his rhythm yet. He's a scorer, but Brandon Jennings hasn't gotten him the ball in a position where he can do damage – yet. Sometimes it takes time for guys to establish chemistry and that's what's going on with Jones right now.
Tracy Smith, PF – This guy might deserves props more than any other player here. Sure, he might be a little older for his grade – but he's gotten himself into tip-top shape and the rewards are starting to show. He's lost about 50 pounds and now he's far more active, has his bounce back and is starting to excel. He had 18 in the afternoon and 20 in a win against Kevin Love's squad at night. Had one of the best days – if not the best – of anyone here.
Johnny Flynn, PG – It was a solid, not spectacular performance against Brandon Jennings at night. He got his team involved, got to the basket and most important, led his team to a win against Kevin Love and Jennings. He continues to prove he's one of the elite guards in the country. If he were still on the board, everyone would be all over him. Credit Syracuse for taking him when no one else really thought he was good enough.
Drew Gordon, PF – He just plain gets after it and does a ton of the dirty work. Playing alongside Kevin Love on the frontline makes it easier, but he finds a way to get things done. Nearly all of the high-majors will go after him because of his work ethic and skill combination.
Brandon Jennings, PG – In the first game, he looked every bit of the top player in the Class of 2008, leading his team to a 108-50 victory while displaying a combination of scoring and passing. However, he tried to do too much in the nightcap in a head-to-head matchup against Syracuse-bound Johnny Flynn and ended up playing a little too selfish for our taste.
Renardo Sidney, F – The youngster's body continues to change and so has his game. He's become a true power forward. He's still skilled with the ball in his hands, but his role here is more of that of a rebounder and inside player. He'll need to watch his body and make certain he doesn't become too big (he's gone from 200 pounds to 240 in the past year).
According to Alex Legion's mentor, Tim Green, the one-time Michigan commit is now looking at UCLA, Kansas State, Kansas, Illinois, Arizona, Virginia and Notre Dame. … Darnell Gant said his three leaders are Washington, UCLA and Cal. "I'm going to stay on the west coast," Gant stated. The Huskies are the most aggressive of the trio. … Drew Gordon said that he likes Duke, Washington, UCLA, Arizona and Florida – among others. … The long-awaited school list out of the mouth of J.J. Hickson reads as follows: Georgetown, Florida, Kentucky, Louisville, Georgia, Miami and Illinois. … Tracy Smith, who is down to 225 pounds, said that Memphis, Oklahoma State and N.C. State are his three leaders right now.
Marshall Moses is transferring from Glenn High (N.C.) to Forest Hill Academy (Lexington, Ky.), which is formerly Millersburg Military Academy. Moses will be in the Class of 2008 and said he's getting interest from the Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kentucky and Cincinnati. … Hargrave Military Academy (Va.) will have Eric Wallace, Dorenzo Hudson, Jeff Allen, Edwin Rios and possibly Patrick Patterson, according to one source. … Percy Miller, aka Lil Romeo, was a last-minute addition. The diminutive guard out of California didn't embarrass himself, either. He didn't score in the first game, but had 4 points at night. … Kentucky coach Tubby Smith was actually at Eastern Invitational in the afternoon watching Tyrone Nash, who will likely commit to the Wildcats, according to a source. Eastern is reserved for mid-major players. Just shows how Kentucky's recruiting has changed of late. … We got word that Boys to Men's Michael Glover has committed to Seton Hall, that Terrence Oglesby is headed to Clemson and one major note is that Kent State landed Chris Singletary, the former Farragut and Florida Prep guard who also considered Oklahoma and Alabama. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Singletary is a great get for Kent State assistant Josh Oppenheimer.
``This is the biggest joke in America" – One reporter after returning from a news conference by Mayo and Bill Walker in which the pair did not answer any questions about recruiting.