School: Michigan State
Xavier Tillman is still deciding whether he will enter the 2020 NBA Draft or return to Michigan State for his senior season. Tillman is considered a fringe first-round pick who could slip to the beginning of the second round. He averaged 13.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks as a junior, earning Second Team All-Big Ten and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors.
The biggest question when it comes to Tillman's draft decision: Other than a national championship, what does he have left to accomplish in college? He's won three Big Ten regular season championships, a Big Ten Tournament title and played in a Final Four. More importantly, he graduated in three years and is married with two children. Tillman seems like a guy who is ready to start his professional career.
Like the rest of this year's draft prospects, Tillman won't have the luxury of going through the typical pre-draft process and gathering feedback on his status. I'd be surprised if he ends up returning to East Lansing. He can play at the NBA level right now and is likely eager to do so.
Tillman is a classic Michigan State big man. He's big, physical and he always plays hard. He is also a very consistent performer, collecting 14 double-doubles last season. Tillman will make his biggest impact in the pro game on the defensive end. He is a terrific defender, using outstanding footwork to complement his upper body strength.
He is a tremendous rebounder, as evidenced by those 10.3 rebounds per game. Tillman is also an above average passer for a frontcourt player. He averaged 3.0 assists as a junior and is comfortable setting up his teammates for scoring opportunities.
Tillman was very efficient in the pick-and-roll, generally making the right decision when the ball comes his way. Tillman is a versatile player who can also impact the game in a variety of ways. His intangibles also stand out. He's a hard worker who is accustomed to winning games.
NBA forwards are generally expected to score from the perimeter and that isn't Tillman's strong suit. He attempted 1.6 three-point attempts per game last season and made 26 percent of them. He's also not a great foul shooter, converting less than 67 percent of his free throws.
Tillman doesn't have high end athleticism and isn't labeled as a guy with a lot of upside. He is what he is at this point of his career. There likely won't be any dramatic changes or improvements to his skill set.
Tillman would be considered a reach for the Sixers with the 22nd pick in the first round. But he'd be an interesting option if he's still on the board when they are making the 34th and/or 36th picks in the second round.
Tillman may not be a star — or even a starter — but he's a guy who can carve out a 10-year career due to his ability to rebound, play defense and do the little things needed to win games. The Sixers could use somebody like that in their rotation.
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