Tough As Steele

FAYETTEVILLE -- For two entire seasons, Ronald Steele looked for advice. Alabama's junior point guard sought out the opinions of his older teammates. He soaked in as much knowledge as he could, and he accepted constructive criticism.

Now, roles are reversed. And it's strange still to Steele, who has landed on numerous preseason All-American teams.

"It's kind of weird (being an upperclassman) because I was a young guy for a while," Steele said. "To have the younger guys come to me and ask me for advice is kind of weird. I think I am growing into that role."

He'll need to if he wants to validate his All-American candidacy and get Alabama to the Final Four, the Crimson Tide's stated team goal according to Steele.

Simply put, Steele is considered by many college basketball insiders to be the best point guard in the country. He can shoot. He can dribble. He can pass. He can play defense. He can do it all -- with an ever-improving sense of unselfishness.

"He has gotten a lot better in the off season, and I believe that he is going to have a phenomenal year," Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said. "He is a catalyst for the team, and we can rely on him to take us to the next level."

Alabama could advance far into the NCAA Tournament, and improve upon its 18-13 record from a season ago, if Steele gets help from his frontcourt.

That should happen considering the talent of senior Jermareo Davidson and sophomore Richard Hendrix. Davidson averaged 14.3 points and 8.9 rebounds last year and considered making the leap to the NBA. Hendrix added 9.4 points and 8.0 rebounds as a freshman and contributed as a solid defender, as well.

Steele spoke highly of both bruising forwards.

"They makes my job pretty easy," Steele said. "I don't have to worry about scoring as much. Then again, I did work on all parts of my game in the offseason, and I think that will allow me to score a lot more. With me, and those two, I think we'll give other teams a lot of trouble."

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