The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)

Kolek, Smart collect AP’s top honors in Big East

- By Eric Olson

Marquette’s Tyler Kolek is the Associated Press Big East player of the year and Shaka Smart is the unanimous pick for coach of the year after the two led the Golden Eagles’ surprising run to their first regular-season championsh­ip in 10 years.

Xavier’s Souley Boum was voted newcomer of the year in balloting by 11 writers and broadcaste­rs who cover the conference.

Kolek and Smart led No. 6 Marquette to a school-record 17 conference wins and its highest national ranking since 1978.

Kolek, a unanimous All-Big East first-team pick along with Providence’s Bryce Hopkins, is among the conference leaders in five categories and is playing some of his best ball of late.

Kolek will enter the Big East Tournament at New York’s Madison Square Garden off three straight double-doubles, averaging 20.3 points and 11.3 assists in those games. His 7.9 assists per game for the season leads the Big East and is second nationally.

Smart combined high-scoring offense with aggressive defense to make the Golden Eagles the first team since the Big East formed in 1979-80 to win at least a share of the title after being picked ninth or lower. Marquette beat every league team at least once for the first time since it joined the league in 2005-06.

Hopkins, in his first season at Providence after transferri­ng from Kentucky, has 10 doubledoub­les and leads the Friars with 16.1 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

Joining Kolek and Hopkins on the first team are Boum and big men Adama Sanogo of Connecticu­t and Ryan Kalkbrenne­r of Creighton.

First team u-Guard:

Tyler Kolek, Marquette, Jr., 6-3, 190, Cumberland, Rhode Island.

Guard: Souley Boum, Xavier, Gr., 6-3, 175, Oakland, California.

u-Forward: Bryce Hopkins, Providence, So., 6-7, 220, Oak Park, Illinois.


Adama Sanogo, Connecticu­t, Jr., 6-9, 245, Bamako, Mali.

Center: Ryan Kalkbrenne­r, Creighton, Jr., 7-1, 260, Florissant, Missouri.

Second team Guard:

Kam Jones, Marquette, So., 6-4, 195, Memphis, Tennessee.

Guard: Colby Jones, Xavier, Jr., 6-6, 205, Birmingham, Alabama.

Guard: Jordan Hawkins, Connecticu­t, So., 6-5, 195, Gaithersbu­rg, Maryland.

Forward: Eric Dixon, Villanova, Jr., 6-8 255, Willow Grove, Pennsylvan­ia.

Center: Joel Soriano, St. John’s, Sr., 6-11, 260, Yonkers, New York.

u-Coach of the year: Shaka Smart, Marquette.

Player of the year: Tyler Kolek, Marquette.

Newcomer of the year: Souley Boum, Xavier.

“u” denotes unanimous selection.

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