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Steele And Ray Go Back And Forth On Player’s Departure From MSU

jalen-steele-msuThis much we do know — senior guard Jalen Steele will not be a member of the 2013-14 Mississippi State basketball team.  How it got to that point?  Well, that’s where things get a little more murky.

According to an MSU release yesterday, the oft-injured Steele — a broken wrist and a couple of ACL tears — would heal himself and get his degree instead of playing hoops.  Rick Ray was quoted as saying: “What Jalen has experienced with injuries has been extremely unfortunate.  He’s 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.”

Ah, but then came wave after wave of Twitter messages from Steele himself:

 

*  “Hilarious I’m not done playing just wanted to take a year off to get stronger and be strong for my senior year.”

*  “I came back last year to play ball and also for the people of Mississippi state we a family but there is always a home wrecker.”

*  “All I wanted was a redshirt and come back stronger next year but they got what they wanted…..”

 

Steele also tweeted: “I hope my dude stay strong those snakes coming for him Next I heard they said 1 down 1 more to go….”

CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish then went back to Ray to get some clarification on just why the heck a player who averaged 10 points per game last season won’t return.  According to Parrish:

 

“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.”

 

Ray said he had no ill feelings toward Steele, who can still graduate from MSU and then transfer and play without restrictions next season.

Steele is a former Mr. Basketball in the state of Tennessee, having played high school ball in Knoxville.  His high school coach, Jody Wright, had some tough words for Ray:

 

“… I feel like in this situation Jalen Steele — who stayed in Starkville after everybody else left (following Rick Stansbury’s forced retirement) — showed his commitment to Mississippi State.  I feel like he was treated like a commodity by Rick Ray.  Nothing more than a scholarship.”

 

Interestingly, Tennessee is expecting to lose a number of key players after this season.  If Steele graduates on time and if the SEC doesn’t get involved (remember that 2011 edict banning graduated transfers?), it would appear possible that the guard might finish his career in his hometown.  However, UT’s Cuonzo Martin and MSU’s Ray are pals.  Both served on Matt Painter’s Purdue staff in 2007 and 2008.  Would Martin take on one of Ray’s exes if he has room and if Steele wants to go in that direction?

That’s a lot of ifs.

 

 


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