A Q&A With The Sidney Family

The Renardo Sidney, Jr. family - Renardo, his dad Renardo, Sr. and his mom Patricia - , in an exclusive interview conducted at their home in Los Angeles, sat down with me and talked about the time Renardo first showed signs of being a high profile basketball player to the end of his recruitment when he signed a scholarship with Mississippi State.

This is for those of you who can't view he videos.-Gene

Renardo Sidney, Sr.

When did you first notice that your son has such a unique talent on the basketball court?
"I think it was when he was in the 7th grade at Peeples Middle School. I think he was playing Blackburn Middle School. He went up to block the shot with his left hand - he blocked it and rebounded his own block. I was like that's incredible. Then he went down on the other end and got a finger roll dunk off the rim. The ball went off the rim and he dunked it. That was the first time I had seen him dunk in a game. I thought, ok, this kid might be special."

How tall was he at that time?
"He was about 6-6."

He's a very unique talent. What were some other things you noticed about him?
"He was a great leader early. When the guys needed a leader on the court, he would grab them and talk t them, tell them to calm down. I saw a lot of floor general leadership out of a young kid at an early age. And I thought that was great as far as his basketball skills."

Did you see that in his personality when he was younger?
"Yeah, I had seen the leadership in his personality when he was younger but I didn't know he was going to grow up to be 6-11.5 (laugh).

"Actually, we started out for football. He wanted to be the next Randy Moss. We were going to train (to be that). We did the tire drills, the bear crawls."

So, he wanted to be a football player?
"Yeah, he wanted to be a football player. And he actually played football in the 7th grade - quarterback and defensive end."

When did he give that up?
"When he grew about two more inches in the summer."

Did he also play baseball or was it just football and basketball?
"Just basketball and football. The (football) coach wanted him to come out the following year but I told him I have never seen a 6-8 quarterback. And I don't think we'll see one this time either (laugh)."

He was noticed early on by college basketball coaches. When did they actually start noticing him?
"I think his 8th grade year. I think the 8th grade year was his coming out party in New Jersey where he got co-MVP with Bill Walton who is playing with the (Boston) Celtics right now. Greg Odom was at that camp. OJ Mayo was there. Eric Gordon was. Derrick Rose, the number 1 pick in the draft, was there. And he was an 8th grader in a 10th and 11th grader camp. And he got co-MVP with Bill Walton."

What did he do in the camp?
"He did everything. He rebounded, he pushed the ball, he passed the ball, he put guys in the right spot. Like I said, the leadership came out of him. He looked like a man among boys even though he was in the 8th grade."

He wasn't intimidated at all? He didn't realize that he should have been intimidated being in such a group of players?
"No, I think he always thought that people should ask for his autograph (smile). That's just the way he has always played."

I was going to ask what the college coaches like about him, but obviously they liked everything about him.
"Yeah. It's rare you find a guy who is 6-11 that can rebound, push the ball, make the passes, very unselfish, probably one of the most underrated passers in the county."

Where did his talent come from?
"Some of it we worked in the gym, but 90% of it came from God."

You are 6-3. Did you have similar talent or did his mother have talent or maybe his uncles?
"There is a bloodline in the family. But I can't say that I was that great in high school, making no-look passes at that height, no, I wasn't that good. His mom was athletic and played sports. He had it in his genes to play some kind of sport."

You moved to California about 3 years ago. Why California?
"We had a list of about three or four places that we wanted to move. Atlanta was one, along with LA and Texas. Those were our top three choices.

"We had come out (to LA) for the summertime and played with Master P's team a (few years back) and everybody liked the atmosphere here and the market was bigger as far as him getting more exposure. And we made the choice as a family to come here."

That leads me into my next question. What are some positive things that you have gotten from him being here in California?
"I think it has made him leery about people for one thing. It lets you know that you can't trust everybody in this society because people are around you for something. And he understands now that everybody (who) gravitates and pulls on his shirt that weren't there from day one ... there could be something behind the bushes. You know what I mean? So, he is now more leery about people as far as trusting them. I think when we first got out here, I think my kids trusted people way too much. Out here, you can't be that naive. People will take advantage of you. All three of my kids, both my sons and my daughter, have blossomed as far as having personalities as far as trusting this person or trusting that person. So, it helped them mature and grow as young adults."

How did it help his game?
"I think it helped his came because of the competition factor, the big crowds. Basketball is very huge here in LA. A lot of times we go into the gyms and there is standing-room only. And not just one certain game. Most of all the games he played there was like standing-room only. He played in big arenas. He played in (UCLA's) Pauley (Pavilion), he's played in Sacramento where the (NBA Sacramento) Kings play. He's played in USC's new building.

"He was used to that in AAU, but it being your high school games you have those type people who, if you are on the road, will boo you. He loves all of that, he embraces it."

How did you, as his dad, help keep him grounded? There was a lot of hype around him because he was so talented.
"I think we did a good job as a family. I'm not going to say it was all me. That one on one with his dad helped him out a lot. But also having his mom there to .... when I get on him about certain things, he would have mom to soften the blow a little bit. I always told him just because they say you are good, guess what, you are an injury away from not playing. You always have to stay grounded. You always have to have more than one plan. If Plan A doesn't work, you have to have a Plan B and C."

Did you ever just sit down and count all the scholarship offers that he had?
"Man, I would say at least 70 to 75, maybe more. It was probably more than 75. A good guess would be 75 to 100."

How do you whittle 75 to 100 down to 1?
"You pray a lot, ask God to lead you."

It sounded like you prayed a lot and He kept sending more offers (laugh).
"(Laugh) Yeah. God always comes through at the right time. And we learned to depend on him for everything and us for a few things."

With him being so heavily recruited, did you, as a family, set up a step-by-step recruiting plan for him to follow to help ease the pressure on him?
"We set up, maybe, a top 10 list, and we narrowed it down from there. We tried not to put too many schools in at one time. There were people who wanted to interview him, wanted to put him in this book. There was enough hype going on about that. So, I just wanted to keep everything at a median. So, me and my wife decided to go to a top 10."

I think Mississippi State has been involved in his recruitment for a long time due to you being from Mississippi and them knowing about him for so long. After he decommitted from Southern Cal and he reopened his recruitment, what was it about Mississippi State that caused them to go to the top of his list?
"First of all, family - my mom, my wife's mom, my dad, my wife's dad, other people in my family and my family. They haven't seen him play since middle school. I think getting him back to Mississippi where people embraced him instead of being in a place where the school was going to take him, how the kids on campus were going to accept him. I think being at home where people who truly love you and don't have agendas, there was a lot tied into that. That was a big factor, his family. Being able to eat his grandma's home cooking, being able to go fishing with his granddads. I mean, just hanging out with his family, people who really love him. People now love you because you play basketball. But I always explain to my son that you have to understand one thing, when basketball is over family is all you have."

That goes back to something a lot of kids say when they are being recruited, they don't just look at the school football-wise or basketball-wise but if they would be happy going to that school even if they weren't a student-athlete. In a way you are saying that, you are saying he would be happy going to Mississippi State even if he wasn't a student-athlete.
"Yeah, he would be because he is a family-oriented guy. He knows that family is first. What better way to spend your years in college than being around your family, people who really love you."

As a family, what have you learned about the recruiting process, the good and the bad about it?
"We learned that people are going to say things that are not true, most definitely. But you have to rise above all the adversity. Everybody in my family understands that adversity builds character. Yeah, it's supposed to be a fun ride, your kid is getting ready to go to college. But some people don't want it to be fun. But hey, we are still dealing with it, we are still standing. My kid is happy, I'm happy for my kid. Go Bulldogs."

Obviously, your son wants to play in the NBA someday. What was it about Mississippi State that causes you to believe they can help him achieve that goal? Was it their history with big men or other factors?
"I think that was one of the factors, but my main thing and my wife's main thing was the coaching staff was absolutely great. We went for the visit and it was I knew I was home. It felt like it was home. And we visited a lot of other schools, but I didn't feel that homecoming, that warmth that I felt when I got to Starkville, from the coaches to everybody in the administration. And the fans were great. It was being at home, man. There is no place like home. That's what they said on the Wizard of Oz, right? Except we didn't click our heels, we just went back home (laugh)."

Let me ask you this then, why did it take so long to figure out that Mississippi State was home? Did you ever think if you could redo it all, Renardo would have chosen Mississippi State last November?
"Possibly, but I didn't want to be in front of his decision. Me and his mom have done that all of his career. But I have told him since the 8th and 9th grade when he was getting ready to go to college it was his decision, not mine or his mother's. Whatever you decide you have to live with. We groomed him up to this point and I think he made a pretty good decision."

You talked about the coaches. I guess Robert Kirby was his main recruiter for Mississippi State and the head coach is Rick Stansbury. What did you like about them?
"The honesty. They were just straight-forward. There was no Hollywood stuff, there was no film stuff - it was real honesty. I am a genuine person and I like honesty. I like genuine people. Being out here, sometimes it's fabricated and you don't see that all the time, like being at home. People who tell you something at home, it's different. My word is good. But out here, in certain places, it's not like that. But when those guys came in, they didn't try to give me the long drawn out speeches. They were straight to the point - hey, we need your son, we want your son."

Was it almost like a breath of fresh air to you?
"It was. You know, my thing was I felt like as a dad that these guys would be father figures to my kid. I don't want coaches just to be a coach to my kid. It's more important a lot of times with these high profile kids what they do off the court than on the court. That's where they are being judged, off the court. So, what he does off the court is more important. And having character and integrity and being with guys who are wholesome and honest (is important). These guys are going to tell you the truth about yourself. If you aren't doing good in practice, they are going to tell you that you have to pick it up, we need more from you. That's what I like about Kirby and the rest of the guys on the coaching staff. They are going to push him. And that's what we were looking for - somebody who would push him to his limit."

When he decommitted from USC and reopened his recruitment and a lot of schools came back in on him, what did you guys do about that? How did you determine what schools would be involve? What was the recruiting process the second time around like?
"There really wasn't a recruiting process the second time around. We has just about made up our minds as far as Mississippi State. We just wanted to make sure that that was the right choice for Junior. He liked Mississippi State from the start. And I think he made a great conscious decision by going to Mississippi State. He got along with the coaches. He had a good relationship as far as talking to the strength and conditioning guy who worked with Erick Dampier, which was really a key in his decision. The first time he got back, he said, 'dad, I talked to the strength and conditioning coach again and he said Erick Dampier is who he is because he worked hard at his body and I can help you do the same thing.' He knows how important it is to keep his body in shape."

Was Erick Dampier going to Mississippi State something that your son kind of keyed on in regard to Mississippi State?
"Yeah, you look at the background of the Mississippi State big guys. I look at the turnaround that Charles Rhodes had. Charles Rhodes, from the time he was a freshman to the time he was a senior, there was a big difference as far as his offensive game, his running the floor, his rebounding, his intensity. Just the whole makeup of his game changed from high school to Mississippi State."

Patricia Sidney

Your family is originally from Mississippi. Are you going to move back to Mississippi when Renardo goes off to college?
"Well, we are not going to move back because I have two other kids who will be attending college. We are going to come back as much as we can to watch Renardo play. We feel comfortable sending him to Mississippi because we have our parents there. That is where all the family is so they can go back and forth checking on Renardo. But we will get there as much as we can to see him play."

You mentioned family, what family is back in Mississippi as far your side of the family and your husband's side of his family?
"My parents, his parents, sister, brothers, everybody, uncles, aunts, cousins. We have no family here, just real close friends that have been like family since we got here. I have an uncle who lives in Riverside, my mom's brother. But I never get a chance to see him because we travel a lot with Renardo."

When did they find out that he was going to Mississippi State and what was their reaction?
"My mom had been praying about the situation the whole time and she told me that, 'you all really need to consider Mississippi State because I had a vision that God showed me that Renardo was supposed to play at Mississippi State.' So, we had been praying about the whole situation and my mom knew all the time, we just didn't know. She is a very spiritual mom and she told us that is where he is going to go. And when we told them, she wasn't surprised because she already knew.

"They just recently found out the last time we were there for the official visit. We told them that's where we were going to go."

When you told your mom, did she say you should have listened to me earlier?
"She did, she did say that, that we should have listened to her because she knew. We should have listened to her.

"When I told her, 'mom, you were right,' she said, 'I told you you have to listen to me sometimes.' She knew and we didn't."

How difficult was it to move to California. Was it tough on you personally?
"It was very difficult for me. The kids adjusted well because they had friends at school. And my husband, being the AAU coach, he met people. And I've always been the stay home person, so I didn't make a whole lot of friends. And it was hard for me because I missed my family. But I've adjusted now. When I go home now, I find myself saying I'm ready to go. I guess from living here with my three kids, it's home to me now."

From a mother's perspective, what was it like to be in the stands and see all the college coaches in the stands knowing they were there to watch your son?
"It made me feel good as a mother. But after you have done it so much, it gets very tiring. It's exciting to see all of it, but after awhile it got tiring. When he first started to travel of Jackson it was real exciting. But after we did it for so long, it got old."

Once you realized that he was going to be heavily recruited, were there places you could to to help you with the recruiting process, or were there any people you knew who could help you, or was it simply learn as you go?
"It was learn as you go. And I've learned a whole lot out of the entire basketball thing - from the recruiting part, the unofficial and official visits. I've learned a lot."

Looking back at it, was it all good, all bad or a combination of both?
"It was a combination of both."

What were the things you enjoyed about it?
"It was good. Some of the school showed a lot of interest and some of them were just nagging."

Was one of the positive points of Renardo's recruitment possibly the recruitment by Mississippi State and their recruiting coach Robert Kirby?
"Yeah, he was a positive person in the whole recruiting deal. They didn't just call us and worry us. They did what they were supposed to do. I really liked the way they recruited us."

As a mom, what are your thoughts about sending your son off to the coaches at Mississippi State - Rick Stansbury, Richard Akins the strength coach, Robert Kirby, Phil Cunningham, Marcus Grant?
"I feel really good about it because they are from the south just like I am. And on the unofficial and official visits that we went on, they treated us just like family. So, I don't have any worries at all. I know they are going to do what is best for Renardo and help him get to that next level. We are excited about sending him back home. I feel they will do a good job with him. I'm not worried at all."

When did Renardo make his final decision to sign with Mississippi State? Did he wake up one morning and say it's Mississippi State or was it a decision that took a few days to make?
"When we reopened his recruitment, we went back to the list - kind of looked at the dos and don'ts of each school, what we liked about them and didn't like about them. And he chose Mississippi State, and I called Coach Kirby."

What did he say?
"He was like, 'wow, are you serious?' I said yes and that I was about to fax the letter of intent to him. And we did it."

Could you hear him yell all the way from here (laugh)?
"(Laugh) I think we both were yelling. We both were yelling.

"Renardo, Jr. texted me from school and said, 'mom, I cried.' I said 'you cried.' He said, 'I'm just so excited that it is all over.' I could feel what he was feeling because there was so much pressure on us about the decision and about the school. We were just so excited. I called my mom and I could hear her scream over here, too."

That was a joyful day for the Sidneys wasn't it?
"It was a good day. We celebrated. We had friends come over who ate dinner with us. We all enjoyed that day."

When your son said he cried, did it cause tears come into your eyes?
"I felt his pain because he has been through so much since his 9th grade year when he was ruled ineligible. And I still say for no reason. But they had their reasons why he couldn't play his 9th grade year. I felt his pain. I felt the joy he felt. I felt everything that he felt that day because I knew he had been through a lot. And he still has a lot to go through. And I don't feel like he deserves what he is going through.

"God gave him his talent. We didn't. We had nothing to do with it. I had him, but the talent is there. It's hard. It's hard. You just don't understand what we have been through. So, I understand how he feels.

"Ever since the day he (signed), he has been the happiest child ever. He has been happy since the day he signed the letter of intent."

Now that you have been through the recruiting process, what advice would you offer other parents who have a young, high profile athlete like your your son was?
"I would do some of the same things that we did. We didn't let coaches come in and talk to Renardo until a certain time. I feel like if you do that, it won't confuse the child. And I think they should let the child make a decision on five schools. And then you just go from there. I wouldn't have a ton of schools because that makes it hard. And it confuses the kid because every school that we went to, Renardo was like, 'I like this.'.

"So, I would say not to let the coaches call because that kind of confuses them, hearing from this coach or that coach. Renardo used to always say, 'momma, they all say the same thing.' So, we pretty much just let Renardo talk to a few that we were really, really interested in. And I wouldn't even say five. If they can get the main three and go from there it would be better.

"And I think all parents should sit down with their child and go over the dos and the don'ts of the schools. What you liked about the schools and what you didn't like about them. What were the positives and what were the negatives. And you keep a book of those. When we sat down to make the decision we were able to go back and look at all of this."

Renardo Sidney, Jr.

When did you first notice that you could do things on the basketball court that very few other kids could do?
"It was at an AAU game at Millsaps College (my 7th grade year). Our point guard had a problem that night. And my dad was worried about who would be the point guard. So, I, as a joke, told him let me be the point guard. And as the game was going on, I did some no-look (passes). I started doing no-looks, just running the team. I think we actually lost by 2 or 3 points. And I was like, 'wow, I can really do things that other big men can't do.' And we've been working from there."

Your dad said you thought you were going to be the next Randy Moss, who is a football player, when you were in the 7th grade.
"Yeah, I actually started working out as a football player. I used to run routes, pull tires, jump over crates. I was going to be a football player. I played the 7th grade and got my wrist broken. I came back the next game and scored a 60-yarder. But I realized that football wasn't for me."

Your dad said you grew 2 more inches in height and then decided what you wanted to do.
"Yeah, if I was still playing (football) I would probably be hurt to this day.

"After that injury, after I got hit by a little dude. I actually tried to jump over him, but I'm too tall, so he just grabbed me and I tried to catch myself and broke my wrist. So, I started playing basketball."

When did you first realize college coaches were watching you in the stands?
"I'm not for sure on that question, but I know the first college that I recognized that was at a game was Alabama. Nobody knew this but I said I wanted to go to Alabama. I think I verbally committed to them when I went down for a visit. I think that was 7th or 8th grade. I didn't even know what recruiting was, but I really liked Alabama because we went down there for a visit and it was my first college that I went to. So, I was like, 'ok, I will go to Alabama.' As the years went on, other schools started showing interest in me and now we are Mississippi State."

You brought up something. What kind of advice would you give kids, 7th and 8th graders who are high profile like you, about the recruiting process? Would you tell them to take your time?
"Definitely. Take your time. As you visit other schools, you might like this school for this reason and that school for that reason. I read on the internet about a lot of 7th, 8th, 9th, even 10th graders who have committed. And they may have to change their minds as they get older.

"(For me) Alabama was in the south. And I thought I would love to stay home. But as I got older, I just wanted to travel. We moved to LA, now I'm about to go back home."

Are you an old 19-year-old due to all that you have experienced?
"You could say I'm older. I have a lot of old personality (traits) because I hang around a lot of older people."

I'm really not referring to how old you are, but all the experiences that you have had in your life.
"I don't think that's old...."

Maybe a more mature 19-year-old.
"Yeah, very mature. I have been to so many places, I can't tell you where I have been. I do think I'm old but people say I have a baby face."

You may have a baby face, but from the neck down you don't look like a baby. You are 6-11 and what did you say, 325 pounds (laugh)?
"6-11, but I'm not 325 pounds (laugh). I'm about like 260 right now."

Is that a good weight for you?
"No, I'm working on getting a little bit smaller and packing it on with muscle when I get to Mississippi State."

Did MSU strength coach Richard Akins talk to you about what would be the right weight for you?
"Yeah, it would be like 250, 260. But I'm just trying to give him something to work with. I'm getting out running every day and trying to get in shape before I go down there."

You've been high profile probably for as long as you can remember. How you ever reflected on it and wondered about the things that you have missed that normal kids get to do?
"Sometimes I sit in my bed and wonder why can't I be normal. There are a lot of parties and clubs that I would love to go to, but I can't because a lot of people are watching me. Everything I do they put in the newspapers, so I have to be real low-key and not do what all other kids do.

"But my dad and mom kept it 50/50. They let me go out anytime but don't do wrong things and do pass curfew."

That goes back to being a mature 19-year old. You have to be conscious of what you do when you are out. Does that get hard sometimes?
"It gets hard, man because I have a lot of people who want to see me fail. They will say the wrong things or they will say this about me and make me react and get mad at them. But, like I said, I will be real low-key and try to stay in the house. I go out from time to time, but I still can't do the same things that normal kids do."

Does it bother you that there are people who want you to fail? I mean, you are still 19-years-old and there are adults who want you to fail.
"It bothers me because they are adults and I'm sure they have a lot better things to do with their life than to worry about a 19-year-old who is trying to get his education and trying to make his family happy. I asked my mom all the time why people try to do that to me.

"I know I kind of put myself in that kind of predicament by acting the fool on the court and having a bad attitude. But I have come a long way."

When were you like that?
"I was like that in the middle of my high school career. I knew what the referees were feeling because I was always on them."

Why were you like that?
"I don't even know, man, to tell you the truth. I think it was just growing up and not getting my way. My mom and dad spoiled us. And when I don't get my way, I get mad, but I have controlled it."

When did you finally get to the point where you could control it?
"This year. As a senior, I told myself I am not young anymore, I'm about to be in college and I have to grow up as a young adult. This year, I probably got a total of 1 or 2 (technicals). But the middle of my 11th grade, I probably had 14 techs. That's when people started saying this and that about me. That's where all the negative stuff came from."

Talking to you I don't get the feeling you are like that.
"Like I said, I have grown up a lot. My mom and dad taught me to not treat life like a joke. If you saw me on the court this year, you would have said I've changed a lot.

"Last year, our rival coach ... I had said some things to him throughout the game. The next day in the newspaper he said he wouldn't trade any of his players for Renardo. And I put myself in that predicament. This year, we played them and I was real nice. I didn't talk to anyone."

So, you understood why he said what he said and didn't get mad at him?
"Yeah, I understood. I knew I was in the spotlight and everybody was looking at me. I can't do the stuff other people can do. If a normal kid gets a tech, they don't put that in the newspaper. But as soon as I act up, it becomes a negative."

In our first interview, you mentioned a possible national championship for Mississippi State when you get there. What are things about Mississippi State that causes you to believe they can win a national championship?
"They have the best defensive player in the NCAA. They have the best role players in the SEC. They have the best coaches in the SEC. With me coming in as a freshman trying to jell with the other players, we work hard as a family we can win the national championship."

And you are talking about the first year?
"The first year. I expect us to win the national championship the first year."

What will it be like to play next to Jarvis Varnado in games?
"Man, to me, we are going to be the best front court in the NCAA. He blocks shots, I block shots. He's a beast in the paint, I'm a beast in the paint. We'll just be a like a two-headed Bulldog (smile)."

The thing about it is you won't just be playing along side each other, but you will be playing against each other in practice every day. That should help both of you.
"I can't wait. Us playing against each other in practice, getting each other better, man, it is going to be scary what we will do."

Coach Stansbury might want to sell tickets to watch practice (laugh).
"He might. As a freshman, I'm not coming in being scared. I'm coming in to go against the best defensive player in the NCAA. We can make each other better. It will be scary to see what we will do together on the court. I'm just happy that I chose Mississippi State. I can't wait to step on campus."

We talked about Jarvis, but the last time we talked you also referred to how much you look forward to playing with MSU's point guard Dee Bost.
"He's a great point guard. I haven't had a point guard like that since Brandon Jennings two years ago. He showed me when we played pickup down there. He got me the ball when he knew I was going at Jarvis. He's smart with the rock. He's just a great point guard to play with. He plays defense like I've never seen a point guard play."

There are some other guys on the Mississippi State team that you know as well, aren't there?
"Romero Osby is like a brother to me. We grew up playing along side of each other. That was one of the reasons why I chose Mississippi State. When we were playing in AAU we were unstoppable. And he's gotten way better than he was in AAU. And I know Ravern Johnson. I played with him in a tournament with Magnolia Stars, him and Monta Ellis. And the rest of the guys, when I went down there, they just took me in like they knew I was coming."

Describe yourself as a player. What are your strengths as a player and what are some things you still need to work on?
"My strengths are I can pass the ball real well, I can get up and down the court real well, I can block shots real well, I can shoot the three real well. The things I need to work on is my conditioning and being smart with the ball. I'm a team player, but I need to become a college team player. High school is over with. Now, it's time to get in the real world. I'm ready to go to Mississippi State. I'm going to put my work hat on and go to work."

You seemed to be very happy with your decision to sign with Mississippi State.
"I'm ready. I was kind of sad to leave my family, my fans and my friends down there. Now, that I'm (about to be) back home, it's very exciting (to think I'm going) to play in front of them. I'm just glad to be home."

So, you consider Mississippi as your home.
"Yes, I'm always a Mississippi boy. California will tell you I never got out of Mississippi, I never lost it. People say all the time I'm still country. Hey, I'm from Jackson, Mississippi. That's where I was born and I'm proud of it."

Do you now wish you had signed with Mississippi State back in November or did it work out better the way it happened?
"I'm glad it happened the way it did. They were still fighting after I committed to USC. That showed me that they really wanted me. It really changed me after they came here. It just made me feel better."

Did that enhance your opinion of them when they didn't give up on you?
"Yeah, my mom called me and said Mississippi State still wants me. I was like, 'really, don't they know I'm committed already.' She said, 'yes, but they still want you.' That changed a lot. After we decommitted, I knew I was going to Mississippi State."

You are in a unique situation and people don't understand the pressure you had to deal with. There are probably only 5 to 10 basketball players have to deal with what you had to deal with. Your mom said you told her you cried when you signed with Mississippi State. What brought that feeling on?
"Just knowing that it was over and done with. Just knowing that I was going back home and playing in front of my family. After I decommitted, I knew I still had to go and take these visits and I was really tired. After I signed that morning, I went to school and went into the bathroom and cried. But it was a joyful cry because it was done and I was going back home."

Your mom and dad helped you quite a bit in the recruiting process. How much did it help you know they were right there with you throughout the recruiting process?
"It helped me a lot. It was a big part of my recruiting decision. They stuck with me through the bad times and the good times. When I needed someone to talk to, I went outside and talked to my dad. He always gave me good advice. My mom was always the crybaby of the family. That made me really happy when she started crying over her son (making my decision). After we made the decision, I hugged I both of them and told them I loved them and now we are going back home."

When do you head to Mississippi State?
"We graduate on the 19th (of June), then I have a family reunion a week after I graduate. I start Mississippi State July 6th."

Is Richard Akins looking forward to having you there for the summer?
"We talked and I just said I'm his."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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