"We Could Maybe Win A National Championship"

Renardo Sidney earned his nickname "The Difference" on Mississippi basketball courts. Now after a five-star high school career on the West Coast, Sidney is planning to make a difference back in his home state. Renardo, one of the nation's premiere prospects, has finalized his college destination and has signed with Coach Rick Stansbury and Mississippi State.

Renardo Sidney profile

In one of the most dramatic turn of recruiting events of the spring signing period, Renardo has backed out on his verbal commitment to USC and signed on with Mississippi State.

If his leaving the Pac-10 surprised some national analysts, his new choice of college program did not. Sidney was dubbed the top prospect in the state of Mississippi all the way back during his eighth grade season. So even after a good career on the West Coast, he proudly proclaims himself still a Mississippi man.

"I'm from Jackson, Mississippi," Sidney said. "A lot of my family members are still in Mississippi. And it will be a chance for them to come see me play at Mississippi State."

He fielded offers from around the country and after a stellar senior season was named the second-rated center nationally by Scout.com's Dave Telep, the nation's top basketball recruiting analyst. Sidney's combination of great size and excellent dexterity made him stand out even in a crowd of top talents, and earn the praise of his peers as well as the attention of college recruiters.

The chance to play in the SEC and compete for championships in a still-familiar setting was a major drawing card for the Bulldogs. Playing alongside the league's most prolific shot blocker in Jarvis Varnado only added to the allure of playing in Starkville.

"Jarvis is a phenomenal player," Sidney said. "He can make me a better player and I hope I can make him a a better player. But there are a lot of of nice guys on that team that work hard. Dee Bost is a great point guard, and I've never had a great point guard like that for a long time. When I was coming up I played with Romero Osby."

And in a statement sure to raise the pulse rate of the whole Bulldog basketball nation, Sidney is thinking of big things in the future. "I feel we've got players there where we could go a long way in the tournament and maybe even win a national championship."

But just being able to play in front of friends and family was an all-important part of the decision making process for Renardo. "And it just feels like I was back home when I was there," said Sidney, who made a visit to the Starkville campus this past weekend. "I love California, but I wanted to go back home. And I just felt like it was a great situation for me. A great pick for me."

Sidney joins fellow signees Shaunessy Smith and Wendell Lewis as the Mississippi State signing class of 2009. A class which now will have to be ranked among the very best in the nation.

Gene Swindoll, the publisher of Gene's Page.com contributed to this report.

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