Louisiana State will have Shaquille O'Neal, the nation's leading rebounder and Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, when the Tigers begin their NCAA tournament journey against Connecticut.

"The warrior is back. Thank goodness," LSU coach Dale Brown said.The 7-foot-1 sophomore was taken off the injury list and reinstated to the team Monday just a few hours before he was named a near-unanimous choice to The Associated Press' All-America team.

A fractured leg sidelined O'Neal for the regular season finale at Mississippi State and for LSU's SEC tournament appearance against Auburn - both losses. He was injured Feb. 27 at Florida and limped through the second half of the game heavily taped.

O'Neal's injury was first diagnosed as a severe bruise of his left leg, but a followup examination by an orthopedic specialist disclosed a hairline fracture of the fibula.

"We checked him thoroughly and X-rayed the area again today," Dr. J. Thomas Kilroy said Monday. "It looks real good. He's not showing any tenderness in the area, and he was able to run and jump without any pain. We are releasing him to play.

"We will continue to check him on a day-to-day basis as the week goes on."

O'Neal leads the nation with 14.6 rebounds a game and leads the SEC with 27.7 points a game.