Renardo Sidney, apparently, has not taught us anything.
Back when he was in middle school, Sidney was considered the next can’t-miss prospect, the latest in a long line of kids that expected to be NBA stars simply because they were able to dominate in their mid-teens.
We know how Sidney’s story played out. He took enough handouts to scare off both USC and UCLA, eventually ending up at Mississippi State, where he spent more time suspended than he did on the court before declaring for the draft as an overweight underclassmen. Today, Sidney is further from NBA stardom than he was when he was 14.
He’s far from the only example, however. On Thursday, Dan Wolken of The Daily did a fine job telling the story of LaQuinton Ross, a former best player in the country, playing at LeBron’s camp with Andrew Wiggins, the current best player in the country:
Like Wiggins, Ross was once the No. 1-ranked high school sophomore in the country. Today, he’s hoping a breakout year at Ohio State will propel him to the NBA where he can join other members of his age group like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Bradley Beal, who weren’t considered better prospects than Ross a few years ago.
“I’m just going to try to live up to the hype,” said Ross, a native of Jackson, Miss. “Everybody has expectations for me, so I’m just trying not to let them down.”
That was a sad thing to hear, because it doesn’t seem so long ago that people talked about Ross the way they now talk about Wiggins. Four years ago, I watched Ross play at an AAU tournament, mostly against kids a year or two older, many of whom have gone on to become successful college players. And he absolutely dominated them.
To date, Ross, a rising sophomore at Ohio State, has yet to live up to that potential. He missed the first month of the season with eligibility issues as a freshman and barely saw time after that.
The good news, however, is that Ross has plenty of time to turn his career around and plenty of skill to make that happen. And while he may be disappointed that his success hasn’t come as quickly as some of the other members of his high school class, he’s still young. He’s a sophomore. He is the furthest thing from a failure.
Those rankings that had him No. 1 four years back? They were based on potential; how good can a kid end up being if he puts in the work to maximize the skills that he was blessed with. The potential is still there for Ross to become something special.
And if he puts in the work, there is a very good chance that he’ll realize it.