When it comes to covering recruits, I believe there is more fun to be had when you live in a world of candy and rainbows. These adolescent high schoolers — with their Snapchats and their Insta-scopes — are the not-so-distant future’s answers to today’s glaring collegiate concerns.
Instead of diving into the issues and aspects of a recruits game that needs immediate work — something I’ll leave to the coaching staff’s — let’s conduct a different exercise, one that revolves around the “Three Hs”: Hope, Hype and Hysteria.
Today we examine Tom Izzo’s newest big man, Xavier Tillman.
Who’s that guy? That guy up there in the green hat and Bubba Watson triple-buttoned Nike polo is Xavier Tillman. Tillman is a 6-foot-9, 250-pound human boulder of a power forward from Grand Rapids, Michigan. If I had to describe him, I would say that he’s basically The Thing from The Fantastic Four, whose special power is destructive post moves that leave his defenders broken.
The No. 75 ranked recruit in the ESPN Top-100 is an old school offensive post threat with a bevy of beautiful moves. When he gets on the block, just get out of the way. He’s also one of the best rebounders you’ll see in this class as well — a skill that I’m sure has Tom Izzo salivating at the most.
Was it just Michigan State involved? Who else was interested? As late as the start of June, Mr. Tillman had a top 19 — yes, top 19 — list that included Duke, UNC, Purdue, Indiana, Iowa, Florida, Florida State and Kentucky, among others.
After the weeding out process came to a head, the 17-year-old big man ended up with a top three that included Purdue, Marquette (a team that is certainly on the rise under Steve Wojciechowski) and the ultimate winner, Michigan State.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Tillman was riding the fence about his decision until this past Sunday:
“It took Tillman until Sunday, he said, to pick MSU after being courted by Purdue’s Matt Painter and Marquette’s Steve Wojciechowski. The 17-year-old said it came down to Izzo’s family approach and the bond he saw between the Spartans when he made his visits to East Lansing.”
Izzo does it again, folks. From everything I’ve read, Izzo has been on Tillman for quite some time and it was ultimately going to be a ginormous task to pull him out of the head coach’s spartan grasp. It sounds like Tillman was able to not only build a relationship with the coaching staff during his time on campus but with quite a few of the current players.
When you have a “family” environment mixed in with the developmental pitch — that I’m sure Izzo has been whispering in his ear for a few years — this was a slam dunk before Friday’s afternoon decision.
What makes the Michigan State situation even better for Tillman is that the future outlook of the forward/center position. Saying that there are plenty of minutes to be had almost immediately would be an understatement.
- Obviously, Tillman is a bulldozer. He can clearly create space for himself anywhere under the hoop. The best thing I can see from that video above is that he is also able to catch the ball on the elbow and go to work. ESPN says that he ultimately needs to work on his athleticism and his range, but there’s something there to grow.
- It’s going to be nearly impossible to switch a smaller forward/guard onto him when it comes to the Pick & Roll.
- I’ll spare you the “Draymond Green” stuff, but there is little to no question that Tillman is meant to play at Michigan State. Everything that Sparty does. Everything Sparty is. You can find it all in Tillman’s advanced offensive/positional/rebounding talents.
- Defensively, you can tell that Tillman’s main goal his entire life was to eat up space and bully whoever dares come into his area. He’s got good feet offensively, so I wouldn’t be shocked if that eventually translates well into his defensive output.
- Tillman can straight-up finish when he’s within 4-6 feet of the hoop. Dunk/lay-up/hook shot, it’s all there with flawless mechanics.