Coach Rick Stansbury announced Friday that Sidney will not join the rest of his teammates in August when they travel to Europe to play five games in three countries. Instead the 6-foot-10 junior has already returned to Houston to continue training with former NBA player John Lucas, whom he previously worked with in May and June.
"Everybody has their own opinion but I'm doing what I have to do," Sidney told The Jackson Clarion-Ledger. "There's nothing else going on. They can say what they want to say but, like I said, I know what I have to do basketball-wise. I wasn't ready to go and I felt like I really wasn't in shape. I wanted to come back down here and get some more work."
That the talented but troubled Sidney won't be in Europe certainly isn't overwhelmingly positive news for Mississippi State, but in reality there are both pros and cons to his absence.
On the one hand, the European tour is supposed to provide Mississippi State a jumpstart for the new season, so not having a key player for either the practices or the trip will likely diminish the impact. On the other hand, perhaps it's more valuable for Sidney to focus his energy on shedding weight and getting into basketball shape considering the conditioning issues he's fought since his high school days.
In a conversation with Mississippi State beat writers in Starkville earlier this month, Sidney revealed he has lost 23 pounds so far. That's down from the 320 he weighed when he arrived in Houston to begin training with Lucas yet still well over the 270 pounds that Mississippi State somewhat laughably listed as his playing weight last year.
The good news for Mississippi State is that the presence of senior point guard Dee Bost, highly touted UTEP transfer Arnett Moultrie and promising incoming freshman Rodney Hood will ensure the Bulldogs aren't as dependent on Sidney this season. Still, Sidney is an important X-factor. If he stays out of trouble and improves his conditioning, it could be a huge boost for his team.