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THURSDAY, MARCH 29, 2007
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Steele having surgery Tuesday

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com 340-2460

Alabama point guard Ronald Steele will undergo a "diagnostic arthroscopy of both knees" Tuesday, according to Dr. James R. Andrews, consultant to the university's sports medicine staff in a university press release Wednesday.

The procedure will be performed at Saint Vincent's Hospital in Birmingham by Dr. E. Lyle Cain Jr. and Dr. Andrews.

"It will be necessary for Mr. Steele to complete physical therapy following surgery, and he is expected to return to full activity for next season," Andrews said.

The exploratory procedure is being done to better understand Steele's painful symptoms in his knees which have limited the preseason All-American to 8.6 points this past season.

While it was originally thought to be tendonitis, Alabama coach Mark Gottfried revealed at the end of the season that Steele's femur bones in his legs was digging into a bruised part on the top of his knees.

Steele's highest point total came in the Tide's 71-62 victory over Middle Tennessee State in the second game of the year, when he had 20 points.

His best game may have come in Alabama's 72-61 win over Kentucky, when he had 15 points and seven assists. Following that game, Steele said he was feeling better, but in the next matchup against Tennessee, Steele started feeling pain in both knees and was limited to three points in 23 minutes in Alabama's 69-66 overtime loss.

He played sparingly in Alabama's 86-77 defeat against Auburn in its next game and didn't play in the Tide's final two regular-season games.

In 2005-06, Steele averaged 14.3 points and was named All-SEC.

"My No. 1 concern right now is with Ron Steele and doing everything we possibly can to help him get back to 100 percent," Gottfried said. "I'm more concerned about Ron Steele, the individual, than Ron Steele, the player, and we want to ensure that his health continues to undergo the best care and that he has a long future in basketball."

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