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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Southpaw sharpshooter Tyler Kolek is ready to win at Marquette

Photo by Collin Nawrocki
Redshirt first-year Tyler Kolek in Marquette men’s basketball’s 98-40 exhibition win over Bowie State Nov. 4.

“Definitely a tough kid. Strong-minded.”

That is how redshirt first-year guard Tyler Kolek describes himself.

The Cumberland, Rhode Island, native is one of the promising newcomers to the Marquette men’s basketball program under new head coach Shaka Smart.

Kolek arrives to Milwaukee after spending his true first-year season in Fairfax, Virginia, at George Mason University in the Atlantic-10 Conference.

In his first season at George Mason, Kolek was the only first-year player in the nation to average at least 10 points, two assists and 2.4 3-pointers per game while shooting above 35% from beyond the arc. Only 11 first-year players have reached this stat line in the past five seasons, including Trae Young, Malik Monk and former Marquette star Markus Howard.

Kolek’s success last season for the Patriots earned him Atlantic-10 Rookie of the Year honors.

He said now playing under Smart, it is a whole new ballgame.

“You can’t really be mentally weak with Coach Smart,” Kolek said. “You really have to be strong, alert and ready for anything he throws at you.”

Michael Crotty Jr., director of Kolek’s AAU program, Middlesex Magic, won an NCAA Championship as a player for Williams College in 2003 and an NBA championship as Director of Player Development for the Boston Celtics in 2008.

Crotty said although Kolek is known predominantly for being a shooter, he has multiple dimensions to his game.

“Tyler can play on the ball, Tyler can play off the ball. The defense can’t really leave him; if they do, he’ll make them pay,” Crotty said. “He’s a great facilitator. He’s an excellent pick-and-roll player, super unselfish, super willing passer. He’ll continue to work on his game, but I think he’s a complete offensive weapon.”

Kolek and Cotty together play off each other well, which ultimately helped build their relationship.

“I was more of a shooter and he was there to help me develop my game more,” Kolek said. “He was a point guard too, so there was a good connection.

Under Crotty’s direction, the Magic developed two guards currently in the NBA: Miami Heat’s Duncan Robinson and Milwaukee Bucks’ Pat Connaughton.

Kolek said he values the Connaughton’s tutelage and support. Additionally, he said is happy they now reside in the same basketball-crazed city.

“Definitely talk to him a good amount,” Kolek said. “He came around in the summer and used to play with our AAU teams a little bit. He’s a great guy and great player. I was at the Bucks’ opening night game when they got their rings, so I’m happy for him.”

Crotty said Kolek’s game and mentality is similar to Connaughton’s.

“Tyler’s killer instinct certainly reminds me of Pat,” Crotty said. “I came out to Milwaukee in September and the three of us had dinner together at Pat’s place. I think they’ll have a really good relationship, hopefully lighting up the nets in Fiserv Forum on different nights of the week.”

Both past and present coaches of Kolek’s see his ability to reach the NBA level.

Marquette assistant coach DeAndre Haynes, who is well known within the NCAA for developing guards, said he considers Kolek as a leader on the team and encourages the redshirt first-year to speak up more with the Golden Eagles roster laden with first-year talent.

“Tyler’s a voice of the team,” Haynes said. “When guys are not going hard, he’ll get into them, and that’s what I’m telling him to do. Keep using your voice. You know what it takes to win, so use your voice more.”

Redshirt junior guard Greg Elliott said he’s seen Kolek’s play on the court to be a well-rounded offensive threat that can help the team in many ways.

“Tyler shoots the ball amazingly well, but he also makes great reads off pick-and-rolls,” Elliott said. “If he gets downhill, he’s making the right play nine times out of 10. Coming from George Mason, everybody just knew him as a shooter, and I was glad to see that he’s more than a shooter. He’s actually a big-time playmaker in our offense.”

Kolek, who exudes confidence, said he is excited to learn from and play in Smart’s high-energy system.

“He gets his guys to compete for him,” Kolek said. “If you have trust in your head coach, then everything will fall in line.”

Crotty said he is certain everything will fall in line as planned this year for Kolek with the Golden Eagles.

“The Marquette fan base is going to fall in love with Tyler Kolek,” Crotty said. “If they knew the work that goes in behind-the-scenes with this young man, they’d already be in love. He’s in that Al McGuire Center morning, noon, and night. You’ve got yourself a winner.”

This article was written by Aidan Hatton. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @AidanTHatton. 

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