Los Angeles Preps: John Wall
So much potential.
So far from realizing it. At least up to now.
That basically sums up the basketball career of Renardo Sidney. At one point, the former Los Angeles Fairfax High product had one of the more promising futures of any Southland player in recent memory.
Sidney, however, has experienced many trials and tribulations along the way, seemingly too many to count. It has been one thing after another for the player who was a USC commit in 2009. And little has changed since his arrival at Mississippi State.
Over the course of the past two seasons with the Bulldogs, Sidney has been suspended on a number of occasions for a number of different reasons. In fact, the sophomore got into an altercation in the stands with teammate Elgin Bailey during a December game at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii and the incident made national headlines.
When taking some of those facts into consideration, it is difficult imagining there being a time when it actually appeared as if Sidney could no wrong. But yes, things were heading in the right direction for him. Truth be told, it was not that long ago either.
“Talent wise, Renardo was one of the best around, he was amazing,'' said Fairfax coach Harvey Kitani. As a senior for the Lions, ESPNU ranked Sidney as the country's No. 3 power forward, and the No. 7 prospect overall. His name was mentioned in the same sentence as future NBA players such as John Wall, Derrick Favors and DeMarcus Cousins.
“Renardo had a wealth of talent, he was on top of his game back then,'' Kitani added. “With his size and athleticism, with his intelligence and understanding of the game, he had a tendency to make things look effortless. He did things other guys couldn't do.''
For as long as most can remember, the Southland has been one of those must-stop destinations on the West Coast for Division I college basketball coaches and scouts in search of the next potential big thing at the next level.
So imagine what was going on in the minds of the powers that be once they all had an opportunity to set their eyes on Jordan Hamilton during his high school days at Los Angeles Dorsey before an eventual transfer to nearby Compton Dominguez.
After speaking with numerous individuals who were around back then, from 2005 to 2009, the consensus seemed to be that Hamilton was always destined to succeed and become yet another local product to move on and make a name for himself nationally.
Sure enough, Hamilton has lived up to the hype. A starter for Texas nowadays, the 6-foot-7 sophomore small forward is averaging a team-high 19 points and 7.5 rebounds per game for the Longhorns (19-3 overall), who are No. 3 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 3 in the Associated Press rankings.
Hamilton and Co. next play host to Texas Tech for a Big 12 Conference game on Saturday night.
It seems not so long ago, Hamilton was a senior at Dominguez. At the time, ESPNU ranked him as the No. 1 small forward in the country and No. 8 recruit overall.
“Yeah, I know about Jordan Hamilton, know him well,'' said Joel Francisco, a recruiting analyst for ESPN. “In high school, he was one of the best out West. He was one of the top scorers in the nation. I had a feeling that he had the type of game that was ready for the next level. I always thought he was capable of making an immediate impact somewhere.''
There was a time, a few short years ago in fact, when it appeared as if Derrick Williams was somewhat of an afterthought on the college basketball landscape.
Those days, however, are long gone.
Williams worked his way into the rotation at Arizona as freshman last season and the La Mirada High graduate has been a fixture in the lineup for the Wildcats ever since. His averages of 19 points and eight rebounds per game this season are indications of his worth.
Heading into Thursday night's Pac-10 Conference game against UCLA on ESPN2, the future appears to be bright for the 6-foot-8 sophomore. His upside is seemingly limitless at the Division I level, and perhaps beyond, something that could not be said a while back.
To gain a better understanding of just how far Williams has come, perhaps it is best to take a brief look back at how it all began. Right here in the Southland, of course.
Year in an year out, the Southland sends a number of boys’ basketball players to college with scholarship offers in hand.
Most move on and compete at the highest of levels -- Division I. Others continue honing their skill sets at institutions a notch below, whether that be Division II or III, or a smaller NAIA program.
Anyway, we figured it was time to check in and provide an update on some of the individuals who first made a name for themselves in this neck of the woods before ultimately deciding to take their talents elsewhere.
One problem, where to begin?
The options are many, seemingly too many to count.
Let’s go ahead and start with Darius Morris. Just yesterday, it seems, the point guard was running the show at Los Angeles Windward High. It was actually 2009.
Things have certainly changed in a short period of time.
These days, Morris is the floor general for Michigan and it appears as if the Wolverines will go as far as the 6-foot-4 sophomore takes them. He leads the Big-10 Conference in assists per game with 7.28, a total that ranks fourth best in the nation.
“Going from high school to college, there’s an adjustment process, but with each game I’m starting to feel more and more comfortable with my role here at Michigan,’’ Morris said. “Expectations are high, I’ve always been that way. You must have a different kind of mindset to do well at this level, and now, I understand the mental aspect of the game, as well as the physical. That’s been big for me.’’