Who won the fight between Renardo Sidney and Elgin Bailey?
The judge ruled in favor of Sidney. Hardly a surprise.
Effective immediately, the suspensions of both Sidney and Elgin Bailey, the 6’8″ behemoth of a young man that traded haymakers with Sidney in the stands of a game televised on ESPN, have been lifted. Bailey, however, has received his release to pursue a transfer.
Sidney will be allowed to play on Saturday afternoon, when Alabama visits Starkville in the SEC opener for both teams.
“I’m very embarrassed about what happened,” Sidney said in a statement. “I know how bad it looked on TV and the embarrassment it caused for everyone associated with Mississippi State. I’ve had a lot of time to think about it, and I will learn from this mistake, move forward and become a better man.”
Its no secret why Sidney was allowed to return, and its not just due to the fact that Bailey was the guy that instigated the fight, as Andy Katz and Doug Gottlieb have both reported. (And if this report from Susan Shan is true, than Bailey probably deserved to be removed from the team.)
In terms of raw talent, Sidney is arguably the most promising player that Rick Stansbury has ever brought into his program. He’s waited a year and a half — through three separate suspensions — to get Sidney onto the court. His return also coincides with the return of point guard Dee Bost, who will finally be eligible after being academically ineligible at the start of the season and then facing a nine-game NCAA suspension.
Mississippi State has been one of the most disappointing teams in the country early on this season. They’ve lost every meaningful game they played, getting upset by Florida Atlantic, East Tennessee State, and Hawaii while being blown out by Virginia Tech, St. Mary’s, and Washington State. With Sidney returning alongside Bost, the Bulldogs have a chance to turn things around playing in the weaker western division of a thoroughly mediocre SEC.
There is no way that Sidney was going to be let go. Not with the out that Bailey was the instigator.
We can sit here and argue about whether or not Sidney deserves to still be on the team if you’d like, but I’d rather not. Fights happen, especially when you are dealing with young men put into competitive, emotionally strenuous situations. The fact that Sidney was involved in two altercations with his teammates is alarming, but there are always two sides to a story and two parties in a fight. I could probably be convinced either way, but that’s not what is important to me.
What I don’t think can be argued is the fact that Stansbury’s gamble has back fired.
His team is currently sitting at 8-6 and in a state of complete disarray. One of his team captains is transferring out of the school. They’ve returned from a holiday road trip that was supposed to be their non-conference proving ground with a 31 points loss to Virginia Tech in the Bahamas, a 1-2 performance in Hawaii, and a 22 point loss to St. Mary’s in Las Vegas. To have any hope of earning an at-large big to the NCAA Tournament, the Bulldogs would likely have to sweep their games against the top of the SEC East and win the league’s regular season title outright.
That’s a long shot, to say the least.
Which is a shame considering the amount of talent Stansbury has at his disposal.
Andy Kennedy should take notice.
You may have missed it during the holidays, but Memphis transfer Jelan Kendrick decided on Ole Miss as the place that he would try to restart his collegiate career.
Kendrick is a supremely talented young man. A McDonald’s all-american in the class of 2010, he is a versatile 6’6″ forward, a do-it-all kind of player that can run the point as well as post up. He’s also had his share of issues in the past. He attended three different high schools, finished his AAU career playing with the Memphis Magic while living in Georgia, and was most recently booted out of the Memphis program after being involved in a number of altercations with teammates. Jeff Eisenberg of The Dagger spoke with Kendrick’s former high school coach who painted a less-than-glowing portrait of the young man.
Kendrick, like Sidney, is the kind of player that can change the course of a program for the good and the bad.
He’s good enough that Kennedy can conceivably build a team around him. McDonald’s All-Americans don’t land in Mississippi all that often. But if he doesn’t mature and if he doesn’t learn how to be a member of a team, he’s the kind of headcase that can destroy a season.
I’m a firm believer in second chances. Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone deserves a chance to make right on those mistakes, including Kendrick and Sidney. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t risks involved with a providing a talented, but troubled, hooper with their second chance at athletic glory.
Only time will tell if Jelan Kendrick will be worth the risk that Andy Kennedy is taking by adding him to his program.
As of now, Renardo Sidney hasn’t been.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.