MSU guard Jalen Steele looks to pass to an open man last season. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
A great amount of pressure will fall on the shoulders on Jalen Steele this season.
The Mississippi State junior point guard seems to like the pressure.
"In high school and middle school, there has always been pressure," Steele said. "There has always been pressure to perform. The more pressure there is, the louder the crowd and it makes me come out more. I like it."
Steele is also going to have to be a leader this season. MSU only returns three guys who have any playing experience in Steele, Wendell Lewis and Roquez Johnson.
Steele and Lewis have got a decent amount of playing time and a lot of the younger guys are looking to them in practice.
"They respect me and listen to me," Steele said. "When they mess up, I tell them something. They go on and do it. They listen very well. They soak everything in. That's what I really like about the young players."
Steele and Lewis are going to be the two that have to lead this team. Lewis is the only senior on the squad, but he is going to need help from Steele.
"This is the road we have been waiting for," Steele said. "We have to accept this road and move on forward. At the same time, we have to keep our game up to show the younger players this is what not to do and this is what to do."
For freshman guard Fred Thomas, he has already begun to look up to Steele. Thomas and Steele's games are very similar.
"I like playing with Jalen," Steele said. "He's a great player. He takes good shots. I need to take good shots. I look up to him on the team."
MSU first-year head coach Rick Ray knew when he came in he would have to get Steele and Lewis going. He has seen great things from Steele so far.
"Jalen is a great person in the way he handles his business," Ray said. "He has a business-like approach to the game of basketball. He comes in, he shoots early and he stays and shoots late. You need a guy out there who is a lethal shooter that can space the defense. He has taken on that role."
Many teams are going to zero in on Steele. Ray believes that Steele can handle that pressure and the duties that go along with it.
"He is an unbelievably hard worker," Ray said. "He is going to be a good player for us. Can he take the attention he is going to receive? It used to be he was probably the third or fourth guy on the scouting report if that. Now he is probably going to be the first guy on the scouting report, so can he handle those duties."
Defensively for Steele, he is going to have to shut down the other teams best guard. He has learned much from Ray and has improved his defensive game.
"He showed me the way to pressure the ball without fouling," Steele said. "Usually sometimes you see a player come up to another player and they call a foul immediately. He showed me a way to get low, get under the player and put more pressure on him without fouling."
Steele and the rest of the Bulldogs are ready to prove that they can be good and leave last year behind.
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"Everybody is ready to prove everybody wrong," Steele said. "Everybody's has got something to prove and a chip on their shoulder. Everybody is going to listen to the new coach, get into the new system and move on from there."