Brian Steele’s playing career is over.
He’s starting another one.
The balky knee that has given Steele so much trouble during his South Carolina career will not allow him to play anymore, coach Frank Martin said on Thursday. Steele tried to play on it, the knee kept swelling and he made the difficult decision to step down.
He immediately became a student assistant coach and will aid the Gamecocks this season.
“My heart goes out to him,” Martin said. “For someone that’s worked so hard, to earn a scholarship and to be such a contributing member of the building blocks of our program, to not be able to play, is frustrating.”
Steele, a walk-on who was placed on scholarship in the spring, started four of 50 career games. His work ethic made him a starter at the end of his freshman year. While never a star (he averaged two points and just over one rebound per game), Steele was a fan favorite.
He will be recognized as a senior and part of Martin’s first recruiting class throughout the season.
“He wants to coach for a living, I told him I have no idea why,” Martin quipped. “But it’s our job to help him get there.”
* Junior guard Justin McKie pulled a hamstring while dunking at practice on Monday. He’s on crutches and will be out of practice for a while. Redshirt freshman guard TeMarcus Blanton is ahead of schedule from his hip injury and is full-go in practice. He would have a problem if he was asked to fully practice three days in a row or so, but right now he would be able to play a few minutes per game.