Leslie Steele arrived at Memphis State in 1940 after a brilliant junior college career. He scored 1,390 career points in junior college and was offered a position with the New York Original Celtics after scoring 18 points against the professional team in an exhibition game.
Steele opted to accept a scholarship from Memphis State Teachers College instead and played for two seasons. In his first season, Steele scored 42 points against Southwestern (now Rhodes College) and is still tied for fourth place in the Memphis State record book for most points score in a single game.
Following World War II, he returned to Memphis State to complete his degree and play basketball during the 1946-47 campaign. He taught, coached and was superintendent of schools in Arkansas and Mississippi.