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August 28, 2007

Another new beginning for Renardo Sidney

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After helping Artesia High of Lakewood, California win its second consecutive California Div. III state title last winter, super sophomore Renardo Sidney told us he loved living in Los Angeles.

"Man, just getting used to the freeways and the cost of living, it's crazy," the 6-foot-10 Sidney remarked. "Plus I like all the pretty girls."

Sidney also told about his upcoming goals.

"I want to win three CIF (Southern Section) titles and three state titles before I graduate."

Well, he'll still be able to meet pretty girls (in fact, he might see even more now) and he'll have to settle for one Southern Section title, two L.A. City Section titles and three state titles as his father, Renardo Sidney Sr., confirmed on Tuesday a long-standing rumor that his son will leave Artesia and enroll at another school for his junior season.

After leaving Mississippi for Southern California over a year ago, Sidney, the nation's top prospect in the Class of 2009 by StudentSportsBasketball.com and Rivals.com, is on the move again. This time it's from the Suburban League closer to the bright lights of Hollywood on Melrose Avenue and Fairfax High School, the defending California Div. I state champions.

"I really haven't had contact with the new coach at Artesia (34-year old Kenneth Shyne)," the elder Sidney remarked. "I do think it will be a better situation for him because the principal at Artesia doesn't care about sports. I want him to be in a program that cares about the kids not only when the season is going along. It has to be more about the support system around him. Don't tell me after the basketball season, now he isn't studying and is struggling in a class. I don't want him to be in a program that starts disciplining after the season, but everything is O.K. when we're winning CIF."

It has been rumored for quite some time that Sidney would be leaving Artesia, and there has even been reports of him moving out of state, again. But the elder Sidney doesn't seem too worried about the things he can't control that sometimes is written by sportswriters about his ultra-talented son.

"I'm not mad at them, they get paid to write stuff that will help them keep their job," he stated. "I don't think people that write negative stuff about my son are bad people. You got to have thick skin and coming from what I've been through in Mississippi, all that stuff is mild and moderate anyway."

Sidney's transfer completes a mass exodus from the California's No. 1 team from the last two seasons. Artesia went 33-2 last year with a second straight CIF Division III state title and also was No. 10 in the final Student Sports FAB 50 national rankings.

The Pioneers previously lost 6-foot-5 guard James Harden to graduation (he's now at Arizona State) plus 6-foot-4 guard Malik Story (transferred to perennial FAB 50 power Oak Hill Academy of Virginia). It was reported even before the completion of the CIF state tournament that Story was headed to Oak Hill and the younger Sidney has told us, "James was like a big brother to me."

The younger Sidney first made national waves when he told the Washington Post he, "really didn't need regular high school basketball." But he took a slightly different stance after experiencing what it was like to win a CIF state crown last March at ARCO Arena.

"It was like family all year long," Sidney said. "Just the traveling and hanging out with the guys or over James' house was great."

"I think he learned how to be supportive of the other kids on his team, not only the other guys that are going to play in college on an AAU team," the elder Sidney added. "He learned how to care and be patient with the other kids that might not have the talent his has...just trying to be a leader out on the court basically. It was good for his growing process."

On top of Story's impending transfer and Harden's graduation, Artesia head coach Loren Grover also resigned this off-season. The team's only returning player who was in the top rotation is 6-foot-1 guard Lorenzo McCloud.

It still remains to be seen if Sidney's addition will move Fairfax all the way up to preseason No. 1 in the state, but it might. The Lions, who were No. 4 in the state last season at 28-5 and were No. 23 in the final FAB 50 with a CIF Division I state crown to boot, do have a potentially strong backcourt to go along with Sidney inside.

Chris Solomon, a 6-2 senior who averaged 13 points per game last year, was an all-state underclassman and will be a four-year starter. He can play both guard positions, but so can 6-3 senior Darius Singletary. It's usually Singletary at the point and Solomon at the wing and both should benefit with Sidney inside. Another player coming back from Fairfax expected to step up this year is 6-6 junior Wesley White.

"He could go to Bellflower High or any other school and get his game to the next level, you and I know that," the elder Sidney explained. "It's not about that. The substance with a coach like (Harvey) Kitani, one that has coached McDonald's guys and such...the combination with the players they have coming back...it's going to be a phenomenal thing for L.A. the next two years."


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