By Matt Hill
In the last decade, many JCHS players have been successful in high school but very few have gone on to make a major impact at the collegiate level.
Milligan College head mens basketball coach Bill Robinson thinks he has found one who will.
Steele, who is nearing 1,100 points in his prep career, signed a letter of intent Thursday to play for the Buffaloes.
Despite the Longhorns recent struggles, Steele is having an outstanding year individually, averaging well over 20 points a game and has been double digits in rebounds most nights.
The Buffaloes are needing a prolific scorer and rebounder and Robinson says Steele will provide them that.
Jason is the complete package and is exactly what were looking for, Robinson said. We want kids who want to be at Milligan, who can do a good job academically and who can make an impact on the court. Hes a high-character kid and we expect him to come in and play right away. We dont expect him to wait two or three years to play, we expect him to play right away.
Robinson also likes how Steele battles and competes every night.
Hes a fierce competitor, he said. He wants to win and hes a tough kid. He gives us flexibility to play multiple positions which is very valuable at our level. He has an ability to step out and shoot. He just plays so hard.
Though Steele is going to an NAIA school, Robinson doesnt feel Steele is an NAIA player.
With a program like King just down the road gaining national notoriety right now, Robinson knows he is going to have to start winning some major recruiting battles locally and nabbing Steele is a start.
If we only recruit NAIA kids, we wont be very good, Robinson said. We have to recruit kids we know we can play at a high level. Yesterday we signed Jordan Cross who is a top 30 kid in the state and because of where the school is located I believe is why people dont know who Jason is. If he was a Knoxville kid he would be a top-50 kid without a doubt, so we were glad he was up here and people didnt know who he was because he is an absolute steal for us.
Steele expects to make an immediate impact for the Buffs.
I feel great that not only I can get some minutes on the court, but they have some other recruits who helped me make my decision to go there, he said. As soon as he told Jordan Cross had committed it made my decision a lot easier. Hes a great passer and great point guard. Milligan is a great fit because its a small school and I can go in there and play right away. Its like a little family down there. Its just a great fit I think.
Just because Steele has made this decision so early in the season, dont expect him slack. He probably will play even harder.
Even though I have my scholarship signed there are still things I want to accomplish, he said. I want to win a conference championship and I want to take this team as far as I can.
Steele knows that he will be playing for a good coach in Robinson, who has big plans for the program.
One of the reasons for choosing to sign with Milligan was the coaching staff, he said. They were very nice to me and they seem like great people to be around.
There have been a lot of great players in recent years, but Steele stands out as a complete basketball player.
Ive had kids who are a lot better athletes, Ive had kids who are a little bit stronger, but Ive not had a kid who could go to the next level and be successful and I think Miliigan is a good fit for him. Theyre going to be able to move him out to the three where hes going to be able to show more of what he can do. Ive probably not had a better high school player than Jason, JCHS head coach Austin Atwood said.
Atwood says Steele has attributes that will make him successful at the collegiate level.
He loves to do well and loves to win, he said. Thats what you want in a player is a kid who likes to win and he is a great competitor.
There are several people Steele would like to thank for making this possible.
I would thank Coach Austin Atwood and Coach Jeff Pardue because theyve put a lot of time into me since Ive been in high school, he said. I would like to thank my dad (Terry Steele) because hes really pushed me since I was a kid to give it all I got and play with heart. I would like to thank God, too because none of this is possible without him and I would like to thank my mom.