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April 8, 2008Alabama point guard Ronald Steele formally made his intentions known to make himself eligible for the NBA Draft without hiring an agent on Tuesday, but the more certain exits of two other Alabama guards Rico Pickett and Justin Tubbs - weren't a topic UA coach Mark Gottfried would address. Both plan to transfer.
"If we have a player who feels like they can be happier somewhere else, I'm going to support them 100 percent," Gottfried said. "I'm not going talk about it any more than that. Maybe later in the week I'll have a comment."
Steele is the second Alabama player to declare his eligibility without signing with an agent, joining forward Richard Hendrix. The move will allow him to return to Alabama for his senior season in 2008-09 if he does not like his NBA Draft projection. Steele hopes to be invited to the NBA's Pre-Draft Camp for evaluation.
"If I don't get invited to the pre-draft camp," Steele said, "that pretty much tells you you have no chance of getting drafted."
Steele believes the invitation list for the camp will be out "in the next couple of weeks."
Steele redshirted last season while recuperating from knee surgeries that limited his minutes and effectiveness in 2006-07.
"Since January I feel I've been good physically," Steele said. "... The best I have in a long time. The doctors have cleared me 100 percent - I'll just continue to get better."
Players who declare early eligibility without hiring an agent have until June 16 to withdraw their names from the NBA Draft.
Gottfried said his team will be prepared if necessary to lose two All-SEC players to the draft.
"We'll move forward either way - we're going to have a oneness and togetherness," Gottfried said. "And if Ron and Richard are here, that can only enhance our situation."