Each new morning at Mississippi State brings more of the same. "We're all anxiously waiting," sophomore Dee Bost says. "We want him. We need him."
This is an article from the Nov. 23, 2009 issue
The him is freshman Renardo Sidney, a 6'10" power forward who was heralded as the next Magic Johnson when he was all of 14 years old. Without Sidney the Bulldogs are very good: They have the nation's most fearsome shot blocker, Jarvis Varnado, as well as an underrated backcourt in junior Barry Stewart and floor general Bost. ("Dee's temperature doesn't change much," says coach Rick Stansbury.) But with Sidney? Well, they want him—need him—because he can upgrade MSU from an SEC power into a Final Four dark horse.
Sidney, however, has caught the eye of NCAA investigators, and at week's end the Eligibility Center was refusing to approve his amateur status until it determined how the player's family could afford to rent the Los Angeles house (reportedly valued at $1.2 million) that it lived in for two years while Renardo attended Fairfax Senior High. Despite the investigation, Stansbury offered Sidney a scholarship last May, and to make fiscal room Varnado, a 6'9" All-SEC power forward, agreed to pay his own way this season. The school cleared Sidney academically, and he has been practicing with the team. Meanwhile Sidney's lawyer, Donald Jackson, chafes at the NCAA's continued requests for bank and phone records. Says Jackson, "I've said from the very beginning, there's nothing here."
A long tournament run becomes probable with the additions of Sidney—who would nudge Varnado over to center—and 7'2" Sudanese freshman John Riek, who will sit out the first nine games for receiving unspecified benefits at Winchedon (Mass.) School. "They give us quality depth, at each slot," assistant Robert Kirby says. "They make us really versatile." But for now, also really anxious.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE
Rick Stansbury (12th season)
|PG||Dee Bost||6'2"||Soph.||10.9 ppg||4.3 apg|
|SG||Barry Stewart||6'3"||Jr.||12.4 ppg||1.8 apg|
|SF||Ravern Johnson||6'7"||Jr.||12.1 ppg||3.1 rpg|
|PF||Kodi Augustus||6'8"||Jr.||6.2 ppg||3.4 rpg|
|C||Jarvis Varnado||6'9"||Sr.||12.9 ppg||4.7 bpg|
|F||Romero Osby||6'8"||Soph.||4.1 ppg||2.6 rpg|
Nov. 13 Rider
Nov. 19 Southeastern La.
Nov. 21 Bethune-Cookman
Nov. 24 Texas Pan-American
Nov. 27 Richmond*
Nov. 28 Old Dominion or Missouri*
Dec. 5 St. Bonaventure
Dec. 10 DePaul
Dec. 12 UCLA‚Ä†
Dec. 16 Wright State
Dec. 19 at Houston
Dec. 22 at Centenary
Dec. 28 Miss. Valley State
Dec. 31 at San Diego
Jan. 4 at Western Kentucky
Jan. 9 at Mississippi
Jan. 14 Arkansas
Jan. 16 Georgia
Jan. 23 at Alabama
Jan. 28 at Arkansas
Jan. 30 LSU
Feb. 3 at Vanderbilt
Feb. 6 at Florida
Feb. 11 Mississippi
Feb. 13 Auburn
Feb. 16 Kentucky
Feb. 20 at LSU
Feb. 24 Alabama
Feb. 27 at South Carolina
March 3 at Auburn
March 6 Tennessee
*South Padre Island Invitational
‚Ä† John R. Wooden Classic in Anaheim
With no ranked nonconference opponents, the Bulldogs must dominate the SEC to boost their power ranking. The worthy Vols should give Mississippi State's frontcourt all it can handle.
Get the latest and best Bulldogs stories, statistics and fan blogs from across the Web, handpicked by the editors of SI.