While following recruiting, you occasionally run across a situation in which an web of pre-existing relationships help lead a player to a college few expected him to select. It remains to be seen, of course, if that’ll be the case with the University of Missouri and point guard Andrew Steele of John Carroll High in Birmingham, Ala., but the symptoms are unavoidably present.
Here’s the breakdown:
--- Mizzou head coach Mike Anderson is a Birmingham native and former coach of Alabama-Birmingham. His frenetic system of play, which he used to call ‘The Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball,” was the predecessor for John Carroll coach Marty Smith’s ‘32 Minutes of Chaos.’
--- Missouri redshirt junior DeMarre Carroll attended and played for John Carroll, is Anderson’s nephew and a close friend of Steele’s. “Andrew has always been in my gym, hanging around the older guys. Andrew and DeMarre are really close,” Smith said, adding that the two are also friends with Anderson’s son, Mike Anderson Jr.
--- Mizzou assistant coach T.J. Cleveland, who is Carroll’s cousin, led nearby Minor High School to an Alabama state championship in 1998. “He went to Arkansas,” Smith said, “but we consider him one of our guys.” Additionally, MU Director of Basketball Operations Jeff Daniels is a Birmingham native.
So, to summarize, it was an automatic that Missouri would recruit Steele; there are simply too many connections not to try and take advantage.
“There’s a lot of ties, a lot of connections,” said Smith, who added that MU has shown strong interest in the 6-foot-3 combo guard and expects that Steele will give Mizzou serious consideration.
The list of schools Steele is currently considering, Smith said, goes as follows: Alabama – where his older brother Ronald Steele is the starting point guard – North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Ole Miss and, of course, Missouri.
But UNC recently picked up a commitment from highly ranked ’08 guard Larry Drew, so the Heels would seem to be out of the hunt. Kansas also has dropped off of the radar since assistant coach Tim Jankovich left for the head coaching job at Illinois State. The biggest obstacle for MU to overcome would seemingly be Alabama and the lure of following in his brother’s footsteps.
“In a way it does [affect my decision] because following [Ronald] I’ve gotten so used to the campus and the people around it,” Steele told InsideCarolina.com earlier this month. “I talked to the coaches a lot and I think they have an added advantage because they can get a lot of unofficial stuff in.
“I don’t think I can necessarily name anybody over anybody right now,” he said. “I’ve got to get things straight in my head and take some visits and see what all schools are interested.”
Smith said Steele is likely to visit MU at some point but hasn’t scheduled it yet.
Steele’s family, Smith said, “is the type of family that if they’re not interested in being recruited by you, they’ll tell you, like they have with several other schools,” Smith said.
Also a standout quarterback on the football field, Steele is considering the possibility of trying to play both sports, but it seems pretty unlikely. Most around him feel it’s a foregone conclusion he’ll choose to focus on hoops full-time. Though the elder Steele was a high-school all-American and possible lottery pick before suffering through an injury-plagued junior year at Alabama, Smith said Andrew has several advantages over Ronald.
“He’s a little bit bigger and a little bit thicker than his brother. A little bit faster,’ Smith said.
Ronald Steele, though, is a pure point guard with an excellent handle, while Andrew still hasn’t solidified himself as a true point guard – he is ranked as the No. 7 point in the nation and a four-star prospect, however.
“He can play the one, two and three, has size, court awareness and leadership,” Smith said. “He’s very long. He plays bigger than 6-3.”
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