How a summer with Angola's national team helped bring Kansas State guard Selton Miguel's game home

Arne Green
Topeka Capital-Journal

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One of Selton Miguel's favorite memories from last summer's Olympic qualifying tournament had little to do with basketball.

"When I was talking trash against Luka (Doncic)," Miguel said with a smile.

And how did Doncic, the Dallas Mavericks and Slovenian national team star, react?

"He didn't say nothing back," Miguel reported, still grinning.

Miguel, Kansas State's 6-foot-4 sophomore guard, spent his summer with the Angola national team vying for a spot in the Tokyo Olympics. And while he didn't bring home any hardware — Angola didn't qualify for the Olympics — the experience was worth its weight in gold.

"It definitely helped me a lot," said Miguel, who joined teammate Mike McGuirl and K-State coach Bruce Weber for the Big 12 media day Wednesday at T-Mobile Center. "(Basketball) IQ, how to score the ball and reading the game — everything.

"Playing against grown men over there, it was a quick transition over the summer. I played with pros. I improved a lot."

Kansas State's Selton Miguel, left, defends against Iowa State's Tyler Harris last March at Bramlage Coliseum. Miguel spent the summer with the Angola national team competing at the Olympic trials.

McGuirl, a fifth-year senior, saw it right away when Miguel returned to Manhattan and rejoined the Wildcats before the start of school.

"I feel like he's more comfortable now," McGuirl said of Miguel, one of three freshman starters last year for the Wildcats. "Comfortable on the floor.

"Being able to handle the ball and bring it up the court, get to his spot and shoot pull-ups. Get to the rim, get to two feet and jump-stop and make plays. His game has really matured."

The maturation process actually began in the spring for Miguel, who made 22 starts and was one of just two Wildcats to play in all 29 games. He was never a consistent offensive threat, twice scoring 17 points in a game, but averaging 7.2.

He also had game highs of seven rebounds and seven assists.

So Weber and his staff went to work on Miguel's offensive skills, from tweaking his perimeter shot to finishing at the basket.

"They really focused on my left hand and my jumper," Miguel said. "I really had to improve my left hand, going to the basket."

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Weber was pleased to see the results when Miguel returned from his summer abroad. Especially with the jump shot.

"There's no doubt," Weber said. "It's something that I got on him about almost every day last year and worked on.

"And now, I think if you ask Mike (McGuirl) what's the best thing Selton's doing right now, his jumper has become a pretty good weapon for him."

But improving his shooting touch was just one of the benefits for Miguel, Weber said. Before traveling to Lithuania for the qualifier, he spent several weeks in his native Angola, as the youngest member of the national team.

"He hadn't been home in over two years to see his family," Weber said of Miguel, who arrived at K-State in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. "I think just for his own well-being that was important.

"But (also) to play against professional basketball players for a month, six weeks straight. Practice every day and then have that experience of playing in those Olympics games, even though it was just a couple."

Weber, himself a veteran of international competition, had seen it with other players in the past.

"It's all about really valuable experience," he said. "I've dealt with USA Basketball for many years, and you see those kids take their games to a whole other level.

"Just having that experience, the confidence, the worldliness, all of it kind of adds up."

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Even though Miguel's scoring was sporadic his freshman year, he still was enough of an asset in other facets of the game to keep him in the lineup. He was a more than adequate passer, allowing point guard and leading scorer Nijel Pack, another freshman, to occasionally play off the ball.

And by season's end, Weber had designated Miguel as the team's defensive stopper as well.

"I really take a lot of pride in that," Miguel said. "I really take pride in my one-on-one defense and that's what I really like to do.

"Even if I'm having a bad game (offensively), I can still have a good game on defense."

Not that he expects as many scoring lulls this season.

"That was last year," he said, smiling again. "This year it comes."