Steele Medically Cleared To Play

The Alabama men's basketball team is preparing to play its final non-conference game at Georgia Tech Tuesday night. This is a time when the team should be solidified. Instead, it has taken two steps forward and possibly one step back insofar as healthy personnel.

If it was a surprise last week that junior college transfer center Moussa Gueye was able to play in December, it was nothing short of shocking that Alabama announced Monday that Andrew Steele has been medically cleared to return to action, possibly against Georgia Tech in Atlanta Tuesday night.

"We're excited to have Andrew Back," Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said. "Four or five months ago we thought his career was at an end because of his concussions. It has been a long ordeal."

Steele announced an end to his competitive career in June because of lingering post-concussion symptoms. In recent months, the 6-4, 230-pound guard has experienced no post-concussion symptoms and has been cleared by Bama's medical staff to return to action.

Steele said that he hoped he would be able to play against Georgia Tech when the Crimson Tide goes to Atlanta Tuesday to take on the Yellow Jackets. Tipoff will be at 9 p.m. EST (8 p.m. central time) from the Philips Arena. The game will be televised by ESPNU.

Alabama is 10-3 and Georgia Tech, coming off consecutive losses to end 2011, is 7-6 under first year coach Brian Gregory.

It is not known if Alabama will have pre-season All-Southeastern Conference forward JaMychal Green available. Green, a 6-8, 240-pound senior, leads the Tide in scoring at 15.9 points per game, but has missed the last two outings with a shoulder injury.

Grant said that Green has continued to make progress, but pronounced him as "day-to-day."

The Tide will begin SEC play Saturday at Georgia.

Alabama's starting lineup in its last outing, a 72-55 win over Jacksonville, had a starting lineup of sophomore point guard Trevor Releford, wings freshmen Trevor Lacey and Levi Randolph, junior forward Tony Mitchell, and freshman low post man Nick Jacobs.

Steele has a history of concussions, two as a high school football player, one as a freshman basketball player at Alabama, and one last year against Kentucky when his chin collided with the shoulder of teammate Ben Eblen. Grant said that Steele would continue to be monitored.

"I'm excited to be getting back on the court with my teammates, doing what I like to do" Steele said. "I hope that my experience and leadership will help us win."

Last year Steele played in 19 games with two starts. He averaged 4.0 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, but was known primarily as a defensive standout.

Steele, who will earn his degree in May, is a junior in eligibility and opes to be able to play another year. He said that he is familiar with the system from his two previous years under Grant and also from serving as a student assistant coach this season.

Although Steele said he is not in the basketball condition he needs to be, "but at a pretty good starting point." Part of his duties as a student coach included occasionally performing with the scout team.

Grant was told in November that Steele might be able to return, but the player did not hear of the possibility until the last week.

Steele is the younger brother of former Tide star point guard Ron Steele, who had his career cut short by knee injuries. Ron is now playing professionally in Turkey and Andrew said his brother was happy to hear the news.

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