29 Apr

Marquette’s Tyler Kolek turns pro after starring for Golden Eagles

Marquette star Tyler Kolek is forgoing his final season of college eligibility and entering the NBA Draft, he announced Wednesday. Kolek started 99 games for the Golden Eagles over the past three seasons while emerging as a foundational piece for the program’s revitalization under coach Shaka Smart.

The 6-foot-3 guard began his career at George Mason in the 2020-21 season and could have played another season of college basketball because of the extra year of eligibility provided to players amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But after establishing himself as one of the nation’s top point guards, Kolek is headed on to the game’s biggest stage.

“While I may be moving on to the next chapter of my basketball career, I will always cherish the memories and lessons from my time in Milwaukee and take tremendous pride in representing this special basketball program at the highest level moving forward,” Kole wrote in a social media post announcing his decision.

Kolek averaged 15.3 points and 7.7 assists per game while shooting 38.8% from 3-point range in the 2023-24 season. He was a CBS Sports second-team All-American each of the past two seasons and Big East Player of the Year in the 2022-23 season.

“I want to express my deepest gratitude and appreciation for everyone who has been a part of my journey at Marquette,” Kolek wrote. “These past three years have exceeded my wildest dreams and expectations while allowing me to build relationships that have changed my life.”

Tyler Kolek’s NBA Draft projection
Kolek ranks No. 35 in the 2024 NBA Draft Prospect Rankings from CBS Sports. He landed at No. 27 in a recent mock draft from Kyle Boone.

“Coming back from an oblique injury, Kolek returned to his regular self in a big NCAA Tournament run for Marquette that ended in the Sweet 16,” Boone wrote. “He averaged 18.7 points and 8.3 assists per game in the Big Dance and showed off the passing instincts and scoring that made him the most exciting point guard in the sport this season.”

Kolek went at No. 30 in Gary Parrish’s most recent mock draft.

“Kolek has some obvious issues as an NBA prospect, most notably a lack of athleticism relative to what’s desired from lead guards,” Parrish wrote. “Still, at 6-3, Kolek is adequately sized for his position, terrific in pick-and-rolls, an A-plus passer and a reliable 3-point shooter. If you focus on what he can do instead of his perceived deficiencies, what you’ll see is a reigning Big East Player of the Year who is skilled enough to stick in the NBA for many years.”

Impact on Marquette
Kolek missed six games covering the end of the regular season and the Big East Tournament. The Golden Eagles went 3-3 in those contests, which was not surprising. Kolek was the quintessential floor general for Smart’s club, and he will be missed. The good news is that leading scorer Kam Jones is expected to return next season. The 6-foot-4 guard could easily play with the ball in his hands more often and should help the Golden Eagles avoid a crippling drop-off in backcourt play. Stevie Mitchell and Sean Jones are also veteran guards with eligibility remaining who could collectively help Marquette cope with Kolek’s departure.

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