Xavier
Tillman Sr.
Position: PF
Height/Weight: 6-8 / 250 lbs
School/Club: Michigan State
Status: Junior
Birthday: 01/12/1999

DRAFT TRADE: Traded to Memphis Grizzlies (along with a 2022 second-round pick) in exchange for Robert Woodard (No. 40 pick)

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About Xavier Tillman Sr.

Xavier Tillman Sr. is a strong forward with a mature game who did a lot of little things on both ends during his junior year at Michigan State.  Widely regarded as one of the top-100 prospects in the high school class of 2017, Tillman carved out a minor role in his first year under Head Coach Tom Izzo but was very productive on a per-minute basis.  Pushing his way into a starting role mid-way through Big Ten play as a sophomore, the Michigan native earned the conference’s Sixth Man of the Year award and raised expectations for his junior year. 

Averaging 13.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2.1 blocks per game, Tillman stuffed the stat sheet as a junior to earn All-Big Ten 2nd Team and Defensive Player of the Year honors.   

  • Standing 6-foot-8 with a strong 250-pound frame and solid length, Tillman has decent size for an interior player.  He is not overly quick but is a powerful athlete who plays above the rim pretty impressive with a head of steam and has an extremely steady motor.
     
  • Asserting himself in a variety of ways last season, Tillman scored steadily diving to the rim, was a consistent factor on the glass, did an excellent job facilitating from the post, and even tossed in some jump shots.   An intelligent, unselfish player, Tillman made an impact even when he was not scoring.
     
  • Competing diligently on the defensive end, Tillman’s instincts, physicality, and intensity helped him block shots, control the glass, and hold his own inside against a grueling Big Ten slate. 

Defensive Analysis

  • Showing great timing and physicality on the defensive end, Tillman consistently makes the most of his tools getting to spots early, cleaning the glass prolifically, and making offensive players pay for exposing the ball. 
     
  • Allowing 0.69 points per post up possession [76th percentile], he held his own against some of the top centers in college basketball one-on-one.
     
  • Doing a great job shooting gaps to get in the passing lanes, Tillman even had some positive moments on the perimeter.  He is not the quickest big man but understands how to leave himself a cushion and knows the scouting report.


Career Highlights

  • Became Michigan State’s all-time leader in blocked shots (153) in just three seasons.
  • 2019-20 Big Ten Defensive Player.
  • 2019-20 All Big Ten Second Team selection.
  • 2018-19 Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year.
  • 2019 NCAA East Region All-Tournament Team selection.


Junior (2019-20)

  • Finished second on Michigan State in scoring (13.7 ppg), assists (3.0 apg) and steals (1.19 spg) and led the team in rebounding (10.3 rpg) and blocks (2.10 bpg).
  • Only player in the Big Ten to rank in the top 15 in points (11th), rebounds (third), assists (14th), blocks (fourth) and steals average (eighth).
  • First NCAA Division I player to average at least 13 ppg/10 rpg/3 apg/2 bpg since Tim Duncan in 1996-97.
  • His 65 blocks were the third-highest single-season season total in MSU history.
  • Posted 23 points and 15 rebounds vs. Penn State (March 3).
     

Strengths

  • Versatile big man with strong intangibles.
  • Effective finisher with nice touch around the rim.
  • Very good passer for his size.
  • Can guard multiple positions and protect the rim.
     

Personal

  • Married his high school sweetheart, Tamia, in May 2019.
  • Has a daughter, Ayanna, and a son, Xavier Jr.
  • 2019-20 CoSIDA Academic All-America Second Team choice.
  • His mom, Tanya Powell-May, played at Michigan and ranks sixth in school history in total rebounds.


Quotable

“Xavier is kind of my new Draymond [Green]. I love Xavier. He gives you everything. He is tough, he plays hard, he works hard. … I don’t want anybody to think I’m putting the pressure on X to be Draymond, but there are [shared] qualities in them. And remember after two years where Draymond was and where X is, and that respect is similar.”

- Michigan State coach Tom Izzo