December 6, 2021 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

Michael looking to the future with coaching job

Nate Michael spent his youth playing basketball in every form. 

After graduating this spring from McKendree University, the 6-foot-3, 180-pound guard recently accepted a graduate assistant coaching job at Kansas State University.

He joins former University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University-Carbondale head coach Bruce Weber’s staff at the school.

He will now spend his adulthood, if he has his way about it, passing along his knowledge to younger players. 

“My goal was always to get a graduate assistant coaching job and start my coaching career,” said Michael. “To be a coach has been a lifelong dream of mine. When I heard that Kansas State had an opening, I was extremely interested. I have a chance to learn under Coach Weber, who has been very successful at every school he has coached at. Kansas State won the Big 12 Conference last year. This is the first step in a journey and I could not ask for a better place to start.”

Michael entered McKendree in 2014, but only played three varsity games during his first year.

The next four years, Michael averaged in double figures.

He finished his career with 1,528 points, joining the 1,000 point club at McKendree during the 2017-18 season. He also finished with 328 rebounds.

Besides his career averages of 14.0 points and 3.0 rebounds per game, he also had 242 assists, 96 steals and 16 blocked shots. 

“I loved playing on the same floor as my father did, when we had the opportunity to play at University of Illinois,” said the former McKendree player. “If I could turn back the clock, I wish we could have made the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament during my time on the team. I am going to miss the camaraderie with my teammates. I am going to miss game days and playing in front of loyal fans and representing McKendree.”

The three-point specialist scored his points by nailing 479-of-1,241 from the field, which included 226-of-665 from beyond the arc, and 344-of-399 from the free throw line. 

In his final year on the team, he scored 372 points and pulled down 111 rebounds, respective averages of 13.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.

He also finished the 2018-19 campaign with 62 assists, 25 steals and three blocked shots. He hit 111-299 from the floor and 84-of-92 from the free throw line. Over half of his shots were from three-point land as he hit 66-of-181 from beyond the arc. He led the team in three-pointers, free throws, free throw shooting percentage (91.3 percent) assists, points and points per game. 

“In my final year, I learned more that will help me be more successful in life than I have in any of the previous years,” said Michael. “College basketball taught me about accountability, hard work, caring about other people, sacrificing something individually if it leads to the team being more successful.”

The son of Tom and Shana Michael of Tuscola, formerly of St. Joseph, graduated in May 2018 with a degree in Psychology.

The former Spartan player also earned minors in Leadership and Sports Psychology.

He was not done with just a bachelor’s degree and the pair of minors.

In his final year of basketball for the Bearcats, he returned to earn his Master’s of Business Administration. He graduated with a 3.2 grade point average and was twice selected to the Great Lakes Valley Conference All-Academic Team.

The recently-hired Kansas State graduate assistant comes from a family of athletes and athletes that all competed in college.

His younger sister, Kylie Michael, is a member of the Eastern Illinois University volleyball team.

Another sibling, Nick Michael, played junior college basketball at Lincoln Land Community College.

His father, a former University of Illinois basketball player, is currently the athletic director at Eastern Illinois.

His mother played junior college volleyball at Kaskaskia College. 

“We were very fortunate to have Nate at McKendree,” said Chris Foster, McKendree’s head coach. “I will forever be grateful for his loyalty to our university and our basketball program. His leadership skills and mentorship of our younger players exceeded our expectations. He will be remembered as one of the best players to ever play at McKendree. I will always remember his work ethic and the extremely high character in which he displayed everyday. I look forward to following his future success as he exits our program to pursue other opportunities.”

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