2 new players for Nuggets fans to watch as potential draft prospects in the Sweet 16

Illinois v Northwestern
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Tyler Kolek, Marquette

I wrote about Kolek earlier, as he was selected by Denver in the latest ESPN mock draft that came out on Monday. He’s a throwback to another era, a true floor general out there with a high basketball IQ and a knack for big moments.

He always seems in control of the game and can beat people off the dribble with craft and deceptive speed just as easily as he can pick teams apart with his passing and playmaking. He’s not an above-the-rim finisher, nor does he create a lot of threes off the dribble, so he’s not the flashiest player, but he’s a downright winner.

The 6’3” senior point guard started his college career at George Mason before transferring to Marquette for his Sophomore year. He led the Big East in assists that year with 5.9, but he really took off as a Junior. 

Last season, Kolek was named Big East Player of the Year, averaging 12.9 points, 7.5 assists, and 4.1 rebounds while shooting 39.8% from three. He won Big East Tournament MVP as well and was named third-team All-American.

He followed that up with an even better Senior year. Kolek was second-team All-American this year and won Big East Player of the Year yet again. He made the All-Big East first team for a second straight year and improved his stats to 15.3 points, 7.9 assists, and 4.8 rebounds per game while still shooting almost 40% from three.

A seasoned NCAA vet at age 23, Kolek should be able to immediately slot in and help the Nuggets off the bench. He projects to be a solid sixth man who can run the offense for stretches at the worst. He has the upside to become a starter and would be a nice insurance plan if Kentavious Caldwell-Pope seeks a bigger payday in free agency this offseason.

Kolek missed the Big East Tournament with an injury, but he’s made up for it in two NCAA Tournament games so far, leading the Golden Eagles to wins over Western Kentucky and Colorado. They’ll be back in action Friday night against NC State with a trip to the Elite 8 on the line.