I’m an unabashed Mike McGuirl fan, and my opinion my be slightly influenced because of this attachment.
Mike McGuirl — A Brief History
Bruce Weber’s most important recruiting job for the 2022 squad is already in his starting lineup. Normally, Mike McGuirl would be preparing for the world outside of basketball (or at least the world of basketball outside of the United States) after a rather eventful college basketball career.
Mike may not have been a consistent star, but on occasion, he’s been able to ignite at the most opportune moment and lead the Wildcats to victory in crucial games. As a true freshman in 2017, he caught fire in the NCAA tournament and poured in 17 points in a win over Creighton. In 2018, when it looked like the Wildcats were on the precipice of disaster, McGuirl went nuclear against West Virginia and led the Wildcats to a comeback win, saving the season. Last season, he went off for 16 against Oklahoma in one of K-State’s three Big 12 wins. Over the last two games against TCU and Oklahoma, Mike has provided the scoring that has been missing all season, leading to an improbable 2 game winning streak in an otherwise abysmal season.
Bring Him Back?
Bruce acknowledged McGuirl at Senior Night, with the caveat that he would happily do it again in 2022 if he decided to use his free “COVID year” and come back for one more run.
In a previous article, I mentioned that Bruce needs to bring in a grad transfer for the 2022 season to help with scoring load. I wasn’t thinking about McGuirl coming back at the time, but the more I think about it, the best graduate option available to Kansas State is already on the roster.
What I like about bringing Mike back for a victory lap is I think he’s finally put it together this season. Consistency has always been the question, and he’s started to answer it recently. He’s found his sweet spot as an aggressive 3 point shooter who looks to get hot, and stay hot. In addition to his shooting, he’s turned into a well rounded player. He’s averaging 3.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists this season (both career highs) and over the last two games he’s collected nine boards against TCU and seven against Oklahoma. He also managed five assists against the Horned Frogs to help the Wildcats snap their utterly depressing losing streak.
It’s frustrating to watch a guy finally hit a the level of consistency his entire career this late in the game, but this year is different because he has the opportunity to run it back one more time.
Bring Him Back!
Fit is important for any team, and Mike creates a complimentary (although admittedly small) back court with budding star Nijel Pack. When Nijel is looking to score, he’s best off the ball. He needs to come off screens to get open looks at catch and shoot 3’s. When Mike is looking to score, he’s best off the ball. He needs to come off screens to get open looks at catch and shoot 3’s. In Bruce’s offense, both guys can seamlessly take over point guard duties from possession to possession, allowing the other player to become a scorer.
When Nijel is hot, Mike can run the show. When Mike is hot, Nijel can run the show. Next year, without McGuirl on the court, Nijel will be forced to run the show the entire time, limiting his ability as a scorer. It’s possible that Rudi Williams makes a huge leap and helps fill the role, but more than likely, Dajuan Gordon or Selton Miguel will try and take over at the two guard; while I like both of their games, I like them better on the wing than as a primary ball handler.
Beyond the on court benefits, Mike seems like a great teammate. He deserves a chance to see this young team take off in 2022 after suffering through the last two seasons, and with a consistent McGuirl in the backcourt, I think the team will take off. Without him, I see a team in desperate need of another ball handler and shooter on the roster.
It turns out that winning basketball games is more fun than losing them. We’ve seen the future of Wildcat basketball over the last two games, and I’d like to run it back next season to see if this roster, with a year of experience under their belt, can make a huge jump from the basement to an NCAA tournament team.
Bringing back McGuirl, in my opinion, would help that dream turn into a reality.
Mike, if you’re reading this: trust me man, the real world can wait. The decision I regret the most in my 20s was graduating in 4 years instead of taking it easy and putting in a 5th year victory lap. Don’t fall into the same trap I fell into. Come on back for another season, and let’s see what this team can accomplish.