Marquette’s Smart says Kolek is participating in full-court, 5-on-5 drills this week

Marquette's Tyler Kolek drives past Providence's Jayden Pierre during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Marquette’s Tyler Kolek drives past Providence’s Jayden Pierre during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Marquette coach Shaka Smart says star guard Tyler Kolek has been practicing in 5-on-5 drills this week as the 2023 Big East player of the year gets ready to return from an oblique injury.

Kolek has missed Marquette’s last six games, but Smart has expressed confidence the Associated Press All-America second-team selection would be back for the NCAA Tournament. Marquette (25-9), the No. 2 seed in the South Region, faces Western Kentucky (22-11) on Friday in Indianapolis.

“He has gone live, he has gone 5-on-5 up-and-down fullcourt,” Smart said Wednesday before the team left campus. “He’s done a lot of good things.”

Kolek has 7.6 assists per game to rank second among all Division I players. The 6-foot-3 guard also is averaging 15 points and 4.7 rebounds.

He injured his oblique during a 91-69 victory over Providence on Feb. 28. Marquette went 3-3 in the games Kolek missed, with two of the losses coming to NCAA Tournament No. 1 seed UConn.

Smart noted there would be an adjustment process for Kolek after missing three weeks, but the coach was encouraged by what he saw in practice.

“He looked like himself,” Smart said.

Kolek’s health also was an issue in last season’s NCAA Tournament. He injured his thumb in Marquette’s first-round victory over Vermont. Kolek continued to play but wasn’t nearly as effective as usual in a second-round loss to Michigan State.

__

Get alerts and updates on AP Top 25 basketball throughout the season. Sign up here.

___

AP March Madness bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-mens-bracket and coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness

Sports Headlines

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed AP

Trending on NewsNation