March 14, 2011 9:21:00 AM
David Miller -
STARKVILLE -- The biggest news Sunday for the Mississippi State men''s basketball team didn''t involve a postseason tournament.
Several hours before its chances of making the National Invitational Tournament ended, sophomore forward Renardo Sidney announced on his Facebook page he would return for his junior season at MSU.
A MSU spokesman said Sunday Bulldogs coach Rick Stansbury hadn''t talked to Sidney and wouldn''t comment on his future with the team.
Said Sidney, "YES for all you BULLDOG fans I will attend MSU another yr and I promise to work even harder than I have ever work b4 getting in shape is my main focus... watch out for them DOGS next season!!!"
Sidney''s proclamation comes two days after he said he was undecided on returning for the 2011-12 season. Sidney said Friday following a loss to Vanderbilt in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament he would "wait until I get home and see where we''ve got to go, NIT or whatever, then I''ll make my decision."
Sidney said last week he wanted to work with strength and conditioning coach Richard Akins. During the same media session, he also said he was unsure if he''d return.
While no one from the program confirmed Sidney''s decision to return, the Facebook post could be the first step in a positive direction for the embattled Sidney.
Mired in controversy for much of his time on campus, Sidney is looking to establish a cleaner image and to improve his conditioning. He was apologetic for the public fistfight with former teammate Elgin Bailey and for being a distraction in a tumultuous season that saw the Bulldogs (17-14) perform below expectations.
Sidney, a former McDonald''s All-American, played the first 19 games of his career following an NCAA suspension and provided an offensive spark the Bulldogs haven''t had up front in recent years. The 6-foot-10 bruiser averaged 14.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, fighting through noticeable fatigue to average more than 25 minutes per game.
Last week, Sidney mentioned "returning to the old Renardo Sidney" in regard to losing weight, being able to run the floor, and to play both ends of the court at a high level.
Junior guard Dee Bost announced Friday he would return for his senior season.
Should Sidney play for MSU next season, it could have one of the SEC''s most talented lineups despite losing senior starters Ravern Johnson, Riley Benock, and Kodi Augustus.
Junior transfer forward Arnett Moultrie, who played his first two seasons at the University of Texas-El Paso, becomes eligible next season and could be an immediate replacement for Augustus.
Jalen Steele, who emerged into a starting role as a freshman, figures to slide into the two-guard spot once he returns from knee surgery.
Heralded signee Rodney Hood is a 6-7 combo scorer who can handle the ball and would be a candidate to replace Johnson on the wing.
MSU also figures to return backup point guard Brian Bryant and athletic post Wendell Lewis. Signees Deville Smith (point guard) and David Gardner (small forward) will be counted on to add bench options.