Prep superstar Renardo Sidney makes it official
In the same Fairfax gymnasium where his thunderous dunks have lifted the students off their feet and where scores of scouts have watched his development soar into a new stratosphere, Renardo Sidney Jr. made it official.
With the who's who of the Southern California basketball community on hand, his teammates assembled along with the school principal, head coach Harvey Kitani, his family and a handful of media representatives carefully watching, the smooth faced 6'11 gentle giant fumbled with unwrapping one box before reaching into the last box to pull out a fitted USC cap in a ceremony that could drastically change the landscape of college basketball in this town.
Since arriving to Southern California from Mississippi, Sidney has already made his impact felt on the basketball court tremendously.
The summer Sidney arrived, he led AAU team Southern California All Stars to the National Championship on one of the most talented club teams in recent history.
Following that glorified run, he went to Artesia and put that prep program on the map leading the Pioneers to a CIF-Southern Section and a State title.
He then transferred to Fairfax, a City powerhouse and last season led the Loins to the brink of a championship and has them knocking on the door again this season.
However, his committing to play basketball for coach Tim Floyd's USC Trojans could set the UCLA Bruins storied program back for years to come.
While UCLA decided to distribute a statement indicating they were no longer recruiting Sidney a few days before his announcement, they did so to the detriment of their own program.
While Sidney and his family did consider UCLA along with Virginia, Mississippi and Arizona State, it was widely known that UCLA was never the front-runner until early last week when it appeared they, in fact were.
This after UCLA spent the greater part of four years wooing Sidney, providing courtside seats and attending many of his AAU and high school games.
The fact that young Sidney has not taken or passed the college admission test is far from alarming after a commitment.
Trojan freshman sensation DeMar DeRozan did not have a qualifying score until after his high school season and in the mid summer.
Having a passing SAT score has never prevented any college from accepting a commitment or for that matter prevented a college from recruiting a prospective student/athlete.
In as much as UCLA, sitting high above reproach, had to publicly announce they were not recruiting a McDonalds All American who could become the next Lebron James is nothing short of sheer arrogance.
Check back in a year and be the judge yourself.
Sidney going to USC will aid the Trojans in landing other high level recruits and could put them on the cusp of being a national power.
It could also cost the Bruins their freshman star guard Jrue Holiday who would have loved to play with Sidney and may now opt to leave for the NBA.
In the meantime, those who were invited to what turned out to be a carefully scripted press conference with a plate of soul food and the decorations befitting the stature of the young man, be thankful.
Thankful that instead of attending a funeral of one of our many Black teenagers gunned down by gang violence, we were honoring one who has excelled beyond it.
Sidney gave more praise to his teammates and family than he did himself. He spoke softly and exemplified the character of the sort of young man that would make any parent proud.
He's a likeable teenager who just so happens to be a special basketball player, but had you walked into the gym covered with tables and chairs instead of players and balls, not knowing who the young man was with the dark blazer, slacks and dress shoes was, you would not have recognized him as having been 'Da Difference.'