The Dagger - NCAAB

We may finally see a slimmer Renardo Sidney next seasonWhen talented but troubled big man Renardo Sidney promised Mississippi State fans in March that he would return to school next season, the rising junior also pledged to come back in much better shape.

Sidney hasn't reached his target weight yet, but he's pleased with his progress.

In a conversation with Mississippi State beat writers in Starkville on Monday, Sidney revealed he's spent the past two months in Houston working on his conditioning with former NBA player John Lucas. Sidney has lost 23 pounds so far, down from the 320 he weighed when he arrived in Houston yet still well over the 270 pounds that Mississippi State somewhat laughably listed as his playing weight last year.

"We did a good job on the weight, but I'm still working on my conditioning and just eating right," Sidney said. "We did some basketball skills too, but the whole idea was just lose weight and get in condition. The basketball game is there."

It has to be refreshing for Mississippi State fans to hear Sidney speak as though he's serious about shedding weight since his attitude and work ethic have been criticized for years. In addition to sitting out the first nine games of the season last year as a result of NCAA violations and two more games for his role in a brawl with a teammate, Sidney wasn't in good enough shape to efficiently run the floor or to play more than a few minutes at a time.

If Sidney can begin the season trim enough to take advantage of his diverse skill set, Mississippi State could easily be one of the SEC's most improved teams next season. The Bulldogs will have Sidney and point guard Dee Bost for a full season next year and will add UTEP transfer Arnett Moultrie and promising incoming freshman Rodney Hood.

"I think I have a lot to prove about my attitude, my game and my conditioning," Sidney said.

That's certainly true, but for the first time, it sounds like Sidney's making legitimate progress.

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