Renardo Sidney speaks, sort of

Since he first moved back from California and committed to Mississippi State in the summer of 2009, now-sophomore Renardo Sidney hasn't spent much time with the media. Nor should he have: Sidney's recruitment was the focal point of an investigation by the NCAA, which eventually found that Sidney had received impermissible benefits in high school. The NCAA ordered him to repay around $11,000 and sit out 30 percent of the upcoming season.

Combined with a voided freshman campaign -- Sidney wasn't allowed to play as the NCAA conducted its inexorable investigation -- the penalty could be perceived as harsh. At the very least, it had to be a challenge. So now that Sidney is (almost) eligible, reportedly in shape, and working out in Starkville, what does he think of the whole mess?

In an interview (if you can call it that) with the media (if MSU's athletics department press relations corp counts as "media"), Sidney discussed the situation for the first time. For his part, Renardo wasn't sure what the big deal was all about, exactly:

“I was hurt, because I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong,” Sidney said. “It just killed me, because I really wanted to be on the floor helping my team win. Someone else was deciding my fate and it didn’t feel fair. It was tough, and I experienced a lot of emotions. It was like a dream, but a bad one.”

Is it just me, or do the last two sentences of Sidney's quote sound like he was the recipient of a Leonardo DiCaprio-led inception? That would explain Sidney's desire to stay in college and work on his game instead of seeking out a route to professional hoops. Sidney always drew questions about his work ethic throughout his high school career, and quotes like this one from the MSU interview ...

"It was very hard adjusting to college life and being away from home. You have to be on time for everything."

... make one think Renardo wasn't always the most focused athlete before he got to college. But the inception worked: Sidney has slimmed down, is working harder than ever, and seems to have genuinely bonded with his teammates over his freshman-year ordeal. That's good news for the Bulldogs, and bad news for the SEC.

(HT: Kyle Veasley, Gary Parrish)