MURRAY — Calloway County basketball player Chandler Steele committed to Centre University this week and will continue his basketball career at the next level.
Steele averaged a team-high 15.5 points per game and 8.3 rebounds per game last season for the Lakers, and prior to the pandemic, was considering whether or not to call it quits in regards to basketball.
“I’ve always wanted to play college basketball, but I was steering away from it after the end of the season,” Steele said. “Being stuck inside and not being able to do anything gave me some time to think on it more and more and Centre is just a fabulous campus and a ‘blue blood’ of Division III basketball. Also, academically, it is one of the best pre-med schools, not just in Kentucky, but in the nation, and that is my major.”
Since his sophomore season, Steele has seen an increase in skill level and playing time. During his sophomore year, he suffered an injury that took him out for an extended period of time. It was then that head coach Brad Cleaver had a conversation with Steele about his potential and his future.
“About halfway through my sophomore season Coach Cleaver sat down with me and my family and talked about me playing at the next level and told me that my potential is through the roof,” Steele said. “After that moment, I knew it was a possibility and I’d say my ceiling is still very high and with hard work my potential could take me places.”
Over the course of the last year, his field goal percentage jumped from 46.3% to 52.7% and his points-per-game average increased by two points. The gradual progression should continue into his college career and if it does, Steele could find himself as a sought after player by some bigger schools.
“I’m very excited, Steele said. “I’ve always been skeptical about going to play at a small school but Coach Cleaver started out that way, at the JUCO level, and ended his basketball career as one of the best players in the OVC. I think if I put in the hard work like he did, I could potentially jump to that level of play, which would truly be a dream come true.”
With COVID-19 restrictions, the recruiting process was a bit different for Steele. There were no school visits or face-to-face meetings allowed with any of the coaches at Centre, but Steele feels like he made a good decision and was comfortable enough with the coaching staff to make the decision to join them.
“The recruitment process was really just weekly calls with (head) Coach (Greg) Mason on why I should come to Centre and play basketball,” Steele said. “With the pandemic going on, I obviously couldn’t visit the school, so that was the next best option.”
Playing at the next level means better competition, but Steele said he is physically prepared to compete and knows what he needs to improve on to become a better player.
“Athletically and height wise, I’m prepared to transition to the next level,” Steele said. “Physicality and shooting are the big things I’ll be focusing on once the gyms reopen and I can get back to work. I went to Centre’s conference playoff game before the pandemic and the physicality of the games and the shooting abilities are astounding. The pace is a lot faster than high school as there’s a shot clock so that will be a fun transition, and I can’t wait to get on campus and get to work.”