Jalen Steele Signs With Mississippi State

Tennessee's 2009-2010 Class AA Mr. Basketball Jalen Steele has signed to play basketball for Mississippi State. He took an official visit this past weekend and signed with MSU Tuesday.

"I committed (and signed) today," said Jalen Steele. "They gave me a scholarship that I carried back with me when I left there (this past weekend). So, I think they probably already knew that I was going to commit."

He talked about what impressed him about Mississippi State.

"The visit was nice, it was more than I expected," said the 6-3, 191-pounder. "I went down there thinking there wasn't much down there but when I got down there they showed me that you can have a good time in Starkville. They also showed me the academics and that was very, very important to me, like the number 1 priority on my list, mine and my mother and grandmother. That really helped us out and solidified the commitment."

This wasn't his first time to visit Mississippi State but it was his first time to really see the sights and sounds of both Mississippi State University and Starkville.

"Three years ago we had an AAU tournament in Starkville at the Mississippi State rec center," said Steele. "We just came into the front part of the college and didn't see all the college. And the college is really big. Really, all we saw was the rec center and the street it was on. We didn't really see the whole campus or the city of Starkville."

There were other factors such as the new indoor facility, the team itself and how much Mississippi State really wanted him.

"The indoor facility is going to be nice," said Steele, who projects as a two-guard on the next level. "It played a big factor in my decision because it will be open and I can go in there and shoot around in the gym anytime I feel like it. And coming into a situation with a team that is already built was a very good situation for me. I'm almost like the missing link for the team.

"All the coaches came and they called me and really wanted me but they didn't really want me like Mississippi State did. Mississippi State's head coach came in immediately after I received my release from Auburn."

Factor in the fact that Mississippi State is in the SEC and you have a Mississippi State signee.

"I really wanted to play in the SEC and I didn't really dream that another SEC school would come at me as hard as Mississippi State did," said Steele. "It really surprised me. They came at me hard, but at the same time there were other schools that were coming after me hard, too. Cincinnati offered me and wanted me to come down there for a visit this weekend, but I really thought about it and felt that Mississippi State was a better fit for me. Ole Miss and Dayton also offered."

He also received recruiting interest from Alabama, Georgia, Florida and UCLA after his release of his NLI with Auburn.

Steele explained what Coach Stansbury liked about him that caused him and his assistant coach Phil Cunningham to recruit him so hard.

"Coach Stansbury said he liked the way I played and that I fit their system because he really stresses defense," noted the multiple All-State selection. "And he liked the way I play defense, defense and rebounding is a big key. And he said I was farther along than most freshmen coming into college because I know how to play defense."

Defense has been a part of his game from the first day he started playing varsity ball.

"My 9th grade year coming into Fulton High, coach Jody Wright really pushed me to play defense," said Steele. "If I didn't play defense I was coming out of the game. So, really I had no choice but to play defense. He said offense will come but as long as you play defense you are sure to win the game. And ever since then I put down my head and I have played defense all four years at Fulton High."

And because he is willing and able to play defense, that may give him an advantage when it comes to playing time his freshman season at Mississippi State.

"Stansbury said I have a very good chance of coming in and playing right away because I am so far ahead defensively," said Steele.

Steele is not only a great defensive player but very good offensively as well, scoring 24 points per game his senior season. He is Fulton High School's all-time leading scorer and scored the second most points in a game in Fulton's history, 46 points. He led his team to two state championships in his sophomore and junior seasons.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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