TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -Alabama's Ronald Steele, once one of college basketball's top point guards, said Tuesday he will declare himself eligible for the NBA draft even though he missed last season following three knee operations.
Steele said he won't hire an agent, leaving open the option of returning for his senior season. He said he wants to get a better understanding of his NBA prospects.
``This decision may come as a surprise to some,'' Steele said at a news conference, accompanied by coach Mark Gottfried. ``While I did not participate in any games this year, I did practice fully with the team. Since January I have felt as good physically as at any time during my career. I also believe my basketball skill has never been better.''
Steele was given a redshirt this season, sitting out to recuperate after arthroscopic surgery on both knees in April 2007 and a follow-up procedure on his left knee in August. Steele, a preseason All-American as a junior, rejoined the team for practice in late December.
Steele graduated in December with a degree in financial planning. He averaged 14.3 points a game as a sophomore and set a school record with 18 assists in the sixth game of his college career.
If he returns to the Tide, Steele could play in the backcourt with his brother, Andrew, an Alabama signee.

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