Mississippi State junior forward Renardo Sidney has returned to campus and begun to work out with teammates, both in the gym and in the weight room.
Sidney was absent in the months of May and June while he worked out with former NBA forward John Lucas in Houston at his training academy.
Sidney says he has lost 23 pounds since the previous season ended and his goal is to lose 20 more by the time the 2011-12 season starts. He declined to share his current weight, but did reveal that he is still over his listed weight of 270.
While Sidney worked with other forwards from around the country, both in college and in the pros, he said perfecting his on-court talent was not the main goal of his time in Houston.
"We did some basketball," Sidney said. "But our whole thing was just to lose weight and get in condition. The basketball game is there."
Sidney said he is 1-for-2 on that front.
"[Lucas] did a good job on the weight," Sidney said. "I'm still working on my conditioning and, you know, just eating right."
He said Lucas, also a forward when he played, helped with more than just the physical things.
Lucas entered the NBA and had a promising start to his career, and in 1986 he was a member of the Houston Rockets team that made it to the finals. However, after that season, problems with alcohol and drugs went public, and he submitted to voluntary treatment to remain a professional player. Lucas's rehab was a success, as he went on to play well even in his 30s, and he eventually got into coaching.
Lucas was able to impart some of the wisdom he gained from his life experiences to Sidney, who has had many, though much less severe, ups and downs.
"Everything he talked to me about; life," Sidney said. "It wasn't all about basketball. He was just teaching me how to keep my cool and not worry about what people say and just stay hungry."
His teammates, including Arnett Moultrie, Dee Bost and Wendell Lewis, all said that Sidney looked to be in much better shape, and Lewis said Sidney is able to get up and down the floor quicker and with more ease than in the past.
Sidney admitted he is not yet in game shape, but said, "it's not gonna take long at all. I'm in the gym every day. I try to go three times a day and work with [strength and conditioning] Coach Akins. It's not gonna take that long, I just gotta stay focused."
As part of his conditioning regimen in Houston, Sidney said he ran three miles per day, 18 miles per week.
Said Sidney, "I've never worked that hard. The last time I worked that hard was 7th grade"
Now, Sidney says, he's looking ahead and trying to get over his past, part of which includes staying away from social networks and in the gym.
"I'm trying to stay low. Last year was the worst year for me. I gotta get my image back up and not worry about Twitter or facebook," Sidney said. "I got a lot of stuff to prove about my attitude, my game, my conditioning."