The Dagger - NCAAB

Renardo Sidney’s absence from European tour wasn’t his choiceRenardo Sidney told reporters last month it was his choice to remain in Houston and train with John Lucas in August rather than accompany Mississippi State on its exhibition tour of Europe.

Now we know that's apparently not the case.

"Let's make sure to get this clear: it was not his decision to go to Houston," coach Rick Stansbury told the Jackson Clarion Ledger on Thursday. "Everybody understand that. I made that decision, nobody else made that decision. I made the decision, OK? That's where that is and, again, would I have liked for him to have been on the trip? I would have and it would have been good, but there are some things he had to handle that he hadn't handled. Since then, he has."

The most logical explanation for Stansbury banishing Sidney to Houston was that the 6-foot-10 junior had yet to shed enough pounds to satisfy the Mississippi State staff, but the coach would not elaborate on his decision. When Sidney returned to Starksville in mid-July after his first stint with Lucas, he said he had dropped 23 pounds but remained above the 270 pounds that somewhat laughably had been listed as his playing weight the previous year.

Sidney was not made available to reporters in Starkville on Thursday, so he could not offer his thoughts on Stansbury's comments or provide an update on his conditioning progress. Stansbury also balked at the notion that Sidney was being punished by not being allowed to join the team in Europe.

"'Fulfill obligations' is not punishment," he said. "That could be opportunities. Don't be negative, now. You're trying to find a negative in something."

Whatever the reason for Sidney remaining stateside instead of joining his teammates on their five game European tour, it's another bizarre episode in the troubled career of a kid who was once the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2009. Sidney has battled NCAA eligibility issues, traded punches with a teammate on national TV and struggled to control his ballooning weight.

In spite of all that, Sidney remains an important X-factor for next year's Bulldogs.

The presence of senior point guard Dee Bost, highly touted UTEP transfer Arnett Moultrie and promising incoming freshman Rodney Hood ensures Mississippi State won't be as dependent on Sidney. But if he stays out of trouble and improves his conditioning, it still could be a huge boost for his team.

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