Update: Steele "blindsided" says former high school coach


Knoxville, Tenn.--(WVLT-TV/Gary Parish, CBS) Fulton High School Ad and head basketball coach Jody Wright says the situation regarding his former star basketball player Jalen Steele at Mississippi State is not as clear cut as made out to be Tuesday night. The Bulldogs announced Steele was calling it quits as a college basketball player, but finishing up his education in Starkville.
Well, while Steele is staying in school, he doesn't necessarily want his playing career to end.
Jalen tweeted Tuesday night he wasn't through and that he just wanted to red-shirt his senior year coming off another ACL injury, his 2nd in college.
While not quite 100%, Steele says wants to hold off until the 2014-15 season.
There in lies the problem. State coach Rick Ray says he won't have a scholarship for him next year. Steele's mentor and former high school coach in Knoxville, Jody Wright says; "... I think he was blindsided. He'd been upfront with coach Ray since the summer. But again, coach Ray didn't recruit him. And when you've got a changing of the guard. That's part of the ugly side of the college business."
Steele hopes to utilize his final year of eligibility and play at another school after he graduates from Mississippi State.

(CBS BLOG-GARY PARISH)
Mississippi State announced Tuesday that Jalen Steele will not play for the Bulldogs this season. The release was headlined "Steele decides to forego senior year at MSU."

On the surface, it was no big deal.

The 6-foot-3 guard has suffered two torn anterior cruciate ligaments and a broken wrist during his three years on campus, which is obviously enough to convince some players that there might be a better way to spend their time. So that's basically what everybody assumed ... until Steele took to Twitter on Tuesday night.

"What you mean I'm done lol ...." is a tweet from Steele that posted at 8:13 p.m. ET. About 15 minutes later, Steele, who was suspended three games last season for disciplinary reasons, followed up. "I came back last year to play ball and also for the people of Mississippi State. We a family. But there is always a homewrecker. ... All I wanted was a redshirt and [to] come back stronger next year. But they got what they wanted ..."

CBSSports.com reached Mississippi State coach Rick Ray by phone late Tuesday.

He tried to clarify the situation.

Ray explained that although Mississippi State's medical staff has already cleared Steele to play basketball without restrictions nearly two months in advance of the start of the season, Steele wanted to redshirt this year and return to the Bulldogs as a senior for the 2014-15 season. Problem is, Mississippi State will not have a scholarship available for the 2014-15 season. So that wasn't a practical option from the coaching staff's perspective.

"Therefore, [Steele] chose the option to graduate [this year] and play elsewhere next season," Ray, the second-year coach, told CBSSports.com. "I respect Jalen's decision and have no ill feelings toward him. We wish him the best."

Ray said Steele will remain on scholarship this year.

Steele will also have full access to the athletic trainers and academic resource center.

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP/WVLT) -- Jalen Steele's injury-riddled career at Mississippi State is over.

The school announced Tuesday that Steele has "decided not to play his senior season and will instead focus on graduating in the spring."

The 6-foot-3 guard from Knoxville, Tenn., averaged 8.0 points and 2.0 rebounds over 76 career games. He shot 36.2 percent from 3-point range, making 125. He continually fought injuries, including two torn ACLs and a broken wrist, over a three-year span.

Steele graduated from Fulton High School in 2011. As a senior, he averaged 24.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals and became the first player in school history to reach 2,000 points for a career.

Mississippi State coach Rick Ray said in a statement that Steele has "battled through a lot of adversity, and it's important we do everything we can to support and help him earn his degree from Mississippi State."

The Bulldogs open the season on Nov. 8 against Prairie View A&M.


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