Gottfried Discusses Steele Surgery at Banquet

Alabama point guard Ronald Steele missed the team's annual awards banquet Tuesday night. The hope is that the surgery Steele underwent on both knees Tuesday, which caused him to miss the banquet, will finally put him on the road to recovery after an unsuspecting injury that nagged him all season long.

"I'm proud of him for trying to play through it," Alabama Head Coach Mark Gottfried said. "He was doing what the doctors said to do and we will continue to do that from here forward."

The surgery took place at St. Vincent's Hospital in Birmingham. Dr. Lyle Cain and Dr. James Andrews repaired small cartilage defects in both knees. Despite first describing the injury as tendonitis, and then conducting MRIs, the extent of Steele's injury wasn't discovered until the doctors went in for diagnostic surgery Tuesday.

"They're glad they went in and found some torn cartilage in both knees," Gottfried said. "It was worse than they thought. It was probably a little more serious of an injury than we anticipated, and he played through it most of the year."

Steele will have about two months of rehab, Gottfried said, and should be healthy around mid-June.

Gottfried told attendants at Tuesday night's banquet that the team had already begun working toward next season, a little earlier than usual.

"What I hope is that the experience this year is going to make us all a little bit hungry, make us all better," he said. "It has begun. We'll never ever shy away from the goals we want to accomplish."

Sophomore Richard Hendrix took home three awards Tuesday night, the most on the team. The All-Southeastern Conference sophomore forward won the team's "Highest Scoring Average" award for leading the Crimson Tide in scoring in 2007 with his 14.6 points per game average. The Athens native also took home the "Jerry Harper Rebounding Award" as the team's rebounding leader this past season with his average of 8.7 rebounds. And he won the team's "Highest Field Goal Percentage Award" for his team-leading .602 percent. Hendrix led the SEC in field goal percentages with his .604 percent in 16 league games.

Freshman Demetrius Jemison and sophomore Alonzo Gee were co-winners of the "Guy Lee Turner Defensive Award" for their effort on the floor. Gee also won the "Robert ‘Rah Rah' Scott Christian Leader Award" given in honor of the late Scott who played and coached at Alabama. Freshmen Justin Tubbs and Mikhail Torrance shared the team's "Hustle Award" for their all-around daily effort at practice and in games. Redshirt freshman Yamene Coleman won the team's newest award, "The Attitude Award." It's to be given to the player who, from the start of summer conditioning to the end of spring exhibits the most positive attitude and approach in his ethic. National Merit Scholar Greg Cage won the "Hayden Riley Scholarship Award" for his exceptional work in the classroom.

Other winners included Ronald Steele who was unable to attend as he was at home with his family in Birmingham after undergoing surgery on both of his knees at St. Vincent's Hospital in Birmingham Tuesday afternoon. Steele won "The Highest Free Throw Percentage Award" for his team-leading .875% shooting. He also won the "Highest Assists Average" award for his 4.0 assists per game. Mykal Riley won the "Most Steals Award" for his 42 steals this past season. And Brandon Hollinger took home the "Highest 3-Point Field Goal Percentage Award" for making a team-best .429 percent of his shots from 3-point range.

Alabama finished the 2007 season with a 20-12 record and advanced to the NIT tournament, its eighth post-season trip in the last nine seasons. It won the Paradise Jam tournament in November and set Coleman Coliseum records for blocks (14) and attendance (196,552). Alabama produced a preseason AP All-American in Ronald Steele, one of only five players selected. Steele was also a John Wooden candidate, a Playboy Preseason All-America and a Bob Cousy Award finalist. Davidson was the only player from the SEC selected as a candidate for the Lowe's Senior CLASS award, given to the top senior student-athlete in college basketball. Davidson was also a Wooden candidate. Davidson and Hendrix were both voted 2007 All-SEC. And Steele was named to the 2007 SEC Good Works Team for his volunteer work around the community.

Davidson is Alabama's lone senior on the 2007 team. He ended his Alabama career with 1,268 career points, which ranks him 23rd all-time in career scoring at Alabama, 918 rebounds, which ranks 10th all-time in career rebounding at Alabama, and 221 career blocks, which ranks fourth all-time at Alabama.

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