There are few players more controversial than Mississippi State junior big man Renardo Sidney
. After a season with more than a few off-the-court incidents, Sidney has his work cut out for him to prove that he is capable of living up to his lofty top-10 RSCI ranking
Though Sidney more than looks the partstanding around 6'10 with long arms and huge hands he was very overweight as a freshman, and, even at his currently listed 280-pounds, could still stand to lose weight. His mobility and explosiveness would benefit, but so too would his poor conditioning. Though he is surprisingly mobile and explosive for his size, maximizing his physical potential would go a long way in convincing scouts that he is serious about playing in the NBA.
On offense, Sidney continues to show the potential that made him a prospect at such a young age, while simultaneously revealing some unfortunate tendencies. On paper, though, he had a productive sophomore campaign, averaging 14.2 points and 7.6 rebounds in just over 25 minutes per game.
Sidney is at his best in the post, where he sees 35.7% of his possessions. While his massive size and nimble footwork definitely gives him an advantage here, he also does a solid job of establishing post position and is capable of corralling errant passes with his soft hands. After backing his man down, he usually reverts to a jump hook, a turnaround jump shot, or simply spins towards to the basket. He gets to the foul line at a solid rate, where he makes over 70% of his attempts. Ultimately, while he must continue to improve, he already has an interesting low post repertoire at this stage.
He also looked comfortable operating out of the high post using his solid ball-handling skills and deceptive quickness to his advantage when facing his man up. He also looked very good in pick-and-roll opportunities, setting good picks while being equally comfortable rolling to the basket and finding spot-up looks on the perimeter.
His perimeter game is a mixed bag at this stage, largely due to his propensity to fall in love with his jump shot and his mediocre shot selection. Outside of his tendency to fade away, his mechanics are solid, however, and though his release can be inconsistent at times, he has good touch and 3-point range on his shot. Despite the potential he shows in this area, Sidney made just 34% of his jumpers last year.
Sidney's poor shot selection is one of many questions revolving around his decision-making ability on the offensive end of the floor. His 0.28 assist/turnover ratio, for instance, is one of the worst amongst prospects in our database
Another concern seems to be his decidedly average court awareness. While it is possible that after sitting out a season and a half, he was simply rusty, that this lapse occurred at a key point in his development is concerning. Whether or not he can maintain focus and consistent effort on offense is an issue, as well, primarily moving better without the ball in his hands and working harder on the offensive boards.
Defensively, Sidney has a long way to go, but is better than advertised. For one, his massive frame, impressive length, and mobility help him guarding his man in the post. Though he struggles to keep his man from receiving the ball, he improved at holding his position as the season progressed. Similarly, he is a solid rebounder, as well, grabbing 12 rebounds per 40 minutes, numbers that should only increase if he improves his effort level, conditioning and fundamentals.
Of significant concern, however, is his lack of defensive focus. Sidney oftentimes loses track of his man, fails to close out shooters or fight through screens, or simply stops trying if he's beaten. Proving to scouts that these issues were related to conditioning and immaturity is essential, especially given his reputation as an uninterested defender.
Finally, it would be negligent to not mention the plethora of red flags that have haunted Sidney since his high school days. Even following his bizarre recruitment and a televised fight
with a teammate, he continued to attract negative headlines this summer
. He spent time with John Lucas
to address his off-court issues, and received good reports
for his conduct there.
Ultimately, there are few big men in the NCAA with Sidney's combination of size and skill. Whether or not he is able to turn that into a stellar junior campaign remains to be seen, especially given the eligibility of the similarly perimeter-infatuated power forward prospect and teammate Arnette Moultrie. Mississippi State's success this season likely depends on Sidney's success, however, and scouts and sportswriters alike will be scrutinizing his every move to see if he has truly overcome his unfortunate reputation. After all, there is no doubting his talent and potential; his overall effort and intangibles, on the other hand, must improve considerably if he wants to play at the next level.