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Dean Wade hoping to return in Sweet 16 for Kansas State

ATLANTA -- Kansas State forward Dean Wade said he's hopeful he'll play during Thursday's game against Kentucky after sitting out the past three games with a stress fracture in his foot.

Coach Bruce Weber said Wade, who practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, will not start in the NCAA tournament regional semifinal, but he could contribute off the bench in Atlanta.

"You know, he's not going to be a 30-minute guy, but we can get like the NBA, the minute guy -- a couple minutes here, a couple minutes there," Weber said. "He does a lot of good things for us. It would be a nice boost. I know the guys were excited to have him back and cheering him on today."

Wade, a first-team All-Big 12 selection, is averaging 16.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.

The 6-foot-10 junior said he hopes he's able to play.

"We'll have to talk to some people [Thursday] to see how it's feeling and just go from there, I guess," Wade said. "I want to play really bad. But I understand that if I can't play as well as I can usually play and won't help the team at all, I'll sit out and cheer them on from the sidelines.

"But I would love to get out there and play, and think I can contribute a little bit."

Getting someone with the length of Wade on the court could pay off against a Kentucky team that has six players who are 6-foot-7 or taller and are averaging double-digit minutes.

"That would help us out a lot, because he's a really skilled big that can shoot the 3-ball, pick and pop, can pass it, rebound. He's a smart player," freshman guard Cartier Diarra said. "But, you know, we just got to be ready if he can't play and do what we got to do."

Said Kentucky forward Kevin Knox about the possibility of Wade playing: "Hopefully he plays so they don't have an excuse."