Ex-Fairfax HS standout Renardo Sidney looks to turn it around

Renardo Sidney was a standout at Fairfax and is now trying to raise his game at Mississippi State. Dale Zanine/US Presswire

So much potential.

So far from realizing it. At least up to now.

That basically sums up the basketball career of Renardo Sidney. At one point, the former Los Angeles Fairfax High product had one of the more promising futures of any Southland player in recent memory.

Sidney, however, has experienced many trials and tribulations along the way, seemingly too many to count. It has been one thing after another for the player who was a USC commit in 2009. And little has changed since his arrival at Mississippi State.

Over the course of the past two seasons with the Bulldogs, Sidney has been suspended on a number of occasions for a number of different reasons. In fact, the sophomore got into an altercation in the stands with teammate Elgin Bailey during a December game at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii and the incident made national headlines.

When taking some of those facts into consideration, it is difficult imagining there being a time when it actually appeared as if Sidney could no wrong. But yes, things were heading in the right direction for him. Truth be told, it was not that long ago either.

“Talent wise, Renardo was one of the best around, he was amazing,'' said Fairfax coach Harvey Kitani. As a senior for the Lions, ESPNU ranked Sidney as the country's No. 3 power forward, and the No. 7 prospect overall. His name was mentioned in the same sentence as future NBA players such as John Wall, Derrick Favors and DeMarcus Cousins.

“Renardo had a wealth of talent, he was on top of his game back then,'' Kitani added. “With his size and athleticism, with his intelligence and understanding of the game, he had a tendency to make things look effortless. He did things other guys couldn't do.''

Sidney, a native of Mississippi, moved out West to play high school ball and started to make a name for himself as a sophomore at Lakewood Artesia. Alongside James Harden, who is currently with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Sidney nearly averaged a double-double a night and finished with 18 points and nine rebounds for the Pioneers.

A transfer to Fairfax followed. He picked up right where he left off, of course, and averaged 24 points and 13 rebounds as a junior. And his statistics during his senior season with the Lions, 24 points and 11 rebounds per game, were right on par.

A selection to the 2009 McDonald's All-American Game in Miami served as another indication of just how highly regarded Sidney was at the time.

“In all my years of watching basketball in in Southern California, Renardo was one of the most gifted big men that I have ever seen, there's no doubt about it,'' said Derrick Taylor, coach at Woodland Hills Taft, a team that defeated Sidney & Co. in the 2008 City Section championship game and duplicated the feat a year later in the playoff semifinals.

“As a high school kid, he had some serious skills, especially for a post player,'' Taylor added. “If there wasn't a rule about about having to go to college before the NBA, I think some team would've taken a chance and drafted him. Renardo was that good.''

Perhaps the NBA is still in the future for Sidney.

At 6 feet 10, the forward appears to posses the size necessary to compete at the next level, although it appears he probably needs to increase his fitness.

Getting his head on straight could greatly help matters too.

In 13 games this season, Sidney has shown a few fleeting glimpses of his former self. He is averaging 12.9 points and 7.4 rebounds in 25.5 minutes per game for Mississippi State (13-12 overall), which plays Ole Miss at home on Saturday in an Southeast Conference game.

ESPN3.com will televise the matchup at 11:30 a.m.

"Renardo is still getting his feet wet in college, I think he has the potential to do some big things down the road,'' Kitani said. "He all the tools, the skill set, to be successful at the Division I level and beyond. I've always thought he could be an NBA player, people should not give up on him just yet.''

Sean Ceglinsky covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.