The news yesterday of eligibility issues surrounding John Wall and Renardo Sidney were surprising on the Wall front a tad, and not so much with Sidney.
Where would either side leave their respective teams?
Wall With Kentucky: A Final 4? Legit national title contender? With Wall’s talents, those goals are attainable. Seemingly, a perfect fit for Coach Cal’s dribble drive motion offense, Wall would ease the concern on Kentucky’s lack of shooters by creating. At 6’4 he and fellow freshmen guard Eric Bledsoe could form an incredibly athletic back court and be effective on both sides of the floor. Some believe Wall would instantly be the best point guard in america this year, even if he is not, he brings a unique skill set and talent that no other guard in the SEC possesses.
Result: Elite 8, potential Final 4.
Kentucky Without Wall: If the SEC were the league we saw last year, no problem. UK and Cal would manage just fine. This year? Not as well. For this team to advance in March past the first weekend, Wall is imperative. Bledsoe would have to immediately step into a role he may not be ready for and the backcourt depth becomes depleted. Patrick Patterson, Demarcous Cousins, and Daniel Orton would need to carry the team, something I’m not sure the latter two are ready for. And with a team lacking of shooters, and down their top creator, they may become offensively challenged. Calipari’s recent offensive sets have done well with Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans leading the way. Eric Bledsoe as a freshmen?
Result: One and done in the NCAA Tournament
Sidney with Mississippi State : Potentially the top front line in all of college basketball with Jarvis Varnado and the possibly healthy John Riek. The Bulldogs bost a solid roster this year; Dee Bost, Ravern Johnson, Romero Osby, Barry Stewart, Kodi Augustus and Phil Turner. Sidney would add a much needed scoring boost and versatility along the frontline. While he has struggled with his weight and off the court issues, Sidney is an offensive talent that few of his freshmen peers can match. Mississippi State would become a much deeper and dangerous team with his addition.
Result: Sweet 16 with Legitimate Elite 8 aspirations
Mississippi State Without Sidney: Honestly, at this point, the addition of Sidney would be a nice bonus. Whether he would admit it or not, Rick Stansbury would probably agree. Without Sidney, Mississippi State is a very talented team in the deep SEC with the nations most dominant defensive player. Bost is a solid lead guard entering his sophomore year and the combination of Stewart, Turner, Johnson and Augustus provide versatility on the wing. Romero Osby would need to come along further this year in an expanded role and the health of John Riek would come into play, as just 10-15 minutes a game would be helpful up front.
Result: Round of 32 with a shot and staying through the weekend.