Kansas freshman Josh Selby went for 21 points in his debut and hit the game-winner on national television against USC.
Mississippi State’s Renardo Sidney made his college debut about eight hours later, scoring 12 points on 6-of-11 shooting and grabbing three rebounds in 25 minutes in a 88-57 loss to Virginia Tech.
It took place in the Bahamas with no television audience – and not even his parents in attendance.
“It was a tough loss,” Sidney told me on Sunday afternoon as he and his teammates were going from the Bahamas to Atlanta to Las Vegas to Hawaii to play in the Diamond Head Classic later this week.
“But I think I played well,” he added. “I could have done better, but I’m getting back to what I used to be – and it’ll help once Dee gets back.”
“When Dee comes back, it’ll make our team better – and make it easier for me,” Sidney continued.
Sidney was referring to starting point guard Dee Bost, who becomes eligible on Jan. 8 after his own NCAA-imposed suspension – in time for the start of SEC play. Right now, Bulldogs coach Rick Stansbury has been forced to go with Brian Bryant at the point.
“It was emotional,” Sidney said of his college debut. “The first game took a lot out of me.”
The 6-foot-10, 270-pound Sidney said he split his 25 minutes between power forward and center. At times in the past, Sidney has fallen in love with playing on the perimeter because of his Lamar Odom-esque versatility.
“I was in the post most of the game,” Sidney said. “Nobody can stop me in the post, and I showed it last night.”
It’ll still take Sidney a few games – or maybe longer – to get back into game shape.
“Then it’ll be back to the young Renardo,” he half-jokingly said.
The young Renardo, at one time, was the top-ranked recruit in the country. He was capable of handling the ball on the perimeter and on the break and able to score from virtually anywhere on the court. However, his stock – and his effort – slipped shortly after he moved from Mississippi to California.
“I just have to get in better basketball shape,” Sidney said. “My weight is good and I feel lighter. I just need to get back in shape.”
– Jeff Goodman