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Steele's playing career comes to an end

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This news is not unexpected, but nevertheless it became official this morning. Per official UA release:

"Andrew  has decided that, in the best interest of his long term health and well-being, it is best to discontinue his basketball career at this time," Grant said. "This decision was reached through consultation with his family and our medical staff and is a direct result of on-going symptoms resulting from multiple concussions, the most recent suffered on March 12, 2011, and the potential for long term consequences should he suffer another episode. We are saddened that he will no longer compete as a member of our team, however, we are extremely grateful for the contributions and dedication he has given our University and the character and selflessness with which he has represented our program. Andrew will remain on scholarship as a medical hardship and will continue to be a part of our team in a different capacity."

Nothing but pure bad luck here for Andrew Steele, whose three-year career was plagued by injury. Despite missing so much time on the court, Steele had grown to become one of the team's top leaders last season, and provided valuable minutes as the season wore on.

Hopefully, as Grant suggests in the statement above, Steele will indeed remain involved with the team this season in a different role as he completes his degree at UA. No doubt that Steele can remain a leader for what will now be an even younger Tide team next season, particularly on the perimeter.

Steele's absence likely means that freshmen perimeter players Trevor Lacey, Levi Randolph and Rodney Cooper will play an even bigger role--and have an even bigger opportunity--in shaping the Tide backcourt from Game 1 onward. It will also open the door for rising sophomore Charles Hankerson, who saw extended playing time during Bama's NIT run when Steele was sitting due to the concussion that ultimately ended his playing career. With Trevor Releford and Tony Mitchell set to return, the battle for playing time among those four players is sure to be intense.

As always, you hate to hear news like this for a guy who did everything the right way and undoubtedly wanted to continue his career with his teammates. Best of luck to Andrew in finishing his degree this year and moving on with life from there, and hopefully we will be seeing him on the bench this season helping his teammates take the next step for the Alabama basketball program.