The Kansas State basketball programs sent one coach and two players to Kansas City, Missouri, this week for the Big 12 Basketball Tip-off. The two-day media event allowed for exclusive interviews and conferences from the Big 12’s top members.
The women started the event on Tuesday, and K-State sent head coach Jeff Mittie and sophomores Ayoka Lee and Emilee Ebert. Lee was the first Wildcat to take the stage in the “Round Table” discussion, where she discussed her summer training, career goals and her role as the team baker.
“Banana bread, yeah, I get a lot of requests,” Lee said. “One of my teammate’s birthdays is this week, so I’ll be making her some banana bread.”
For more about the summer three-on-three tournament and more, check out the full recap of Lee’s Round Table discussion.
Head coach Jeff Mittie was next on stage, where he spoke on a new year after a COVID-19 plagued season, new faces and the progression of Ayoka Lee.
“She just needs to continue to get better,” Mittie said of his star center. “She’s been a great end of offense player — the only player in the NCAA to shoot over 60 percent from the field and over 80 percent from the free-throw line. She needs to continue to improve her physicality.”
Mittie’s full Round Table discussion is available on the Collegian website.
Mittie then had one-on-one discussions with journalists, where he discussed his goals for the season and what a successful year would look like. The full interview with Collegian reporters as part of the “Collegian Uncut” interview series is available on the K-State Collegian YouTube channel.
Emilee Ebert and Ayoka Lee were the next to answer questions, where both girls agreed that this season has a new and improved “energy.”
“Our culture has shifted a little bit,” Ebert said. “To watch the pieces get put together in a game is what I’m excited for. I think the energy is better in the locker, practice, off the court, weights, training room. It’s just ten times better than it was. We have a lot of new faces and they came in with a lot of new energy, which we needed, so it’s kind of like a breath of fresh air.”
This wrapped up day one of the Big 12 Basketball Tip-Off, with the men’s teams ready to take the stage for day two. K-State sent head coach Bruce Weber, super-senior Mike McGuirl and sophomore Selton Miguel to the event.
Weber started the day off with a question-and-answer session, stating his excitement for the incoming transfers and about McGuirl coming back to the program with his COVID-19 extra-eligibility year.
“It was the biggest, best recruit we had, to get [McGuirl] to come back,” Weber said.
The Collegian staff had an exclusive one-on-one interview with Weber, where he answered questions about having former players on the coaching staff, the improvements of Miguel and breakout sophomores Nijel Pack and Davion Bradford and his concern about NIL deals.
“I worry about it, I’ll be honest,” Weber said. “I don’t think nationally the word has got out how well treated our players are. I’ve heard guys on national broadcasts say, ‘The NCAA is abusing these student-athletes.’ That’s wrong. Ask our guys how many times they’re hungry, they get four meals a day. Not three — four. They’re treated well, they get cost of attendance. If they qualify, financial aid. They could work jobs if they wanted.”
McGuirl and Miguel were the last to face the media, discussing Miguel’s time playing for Angola for the Olympics over the summer and McGuirl’s decision to come back for his sixth season.
“The decision to come back was a pretty easy decision,” McGuirl said. “I knew what I had to do — I had some unfinished business here that I wanted to take care of.”
The women’s season tips off at home against Central Arkansas on Nov. 9, and the men’s season starts at home against Pittsburg State on Nov. 4. Catch recaps of every game through the Collegian as the season approaches.