Xavier Tillman weighs NBA draft options

Sports

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The NCAA has extended the withdraw deadline for underclassmen who have declared themselves eligible for the upcoming NBA draft, giving them more time to decide whether to go to the NBA.

Michigan State junior Xavier Tillman has entered his name into the upcoming NBA draft. But he has not hired an agent, so he could still return to school.

With less than a month to decide, the Grand Rapids Christian High School graduate says he is still at the 50/50 mark, which is where he was when he put his name in the draft.

“If you look at mock drafts, you would think I was for sure. But it’s all about what I hear from NBA teams and what they like about my game, what they don’t like. Whether they see me getting drafted by them or not. That’s what I’m looking for, some guarantees so that I’m more confident in teams,” he said.

Predictions show that Tillman could be picked late in the first round or fall into the second. Other predictions show that if he returns to Michigan State, the team could open as the Top Ten team next year.

Tillman says during this process, he’s feeling more support than pressure.

“People know how successful we would be if I came back for another year. And then I have people who say, “Hey we have a family to support and you should make sure your family is OK. So I definitely feel support from both angles and I really appreciate them,” Tillman said.

Outside of his wife and family, Tillman says his coach Tom Izzo has had one of the biggest roles throughout his decision making process.

“He knows the NBA ins and outs and he wants the best for me and my family as well. So, he’s preaching to them all the good things about me, and trying to sell me,” he said. “Also, he’s letting me know I have to work out each and every day. At least as much as possible during this pandemic, so I can be ready for either an NBA season or his season with the team.”

During the pandemic, Tillman said he’s working hard to stay in shape and sharpening his games with home workout and using tools provided to him by MSU.

“I’ve been doing a little bit of everything, to stay in condition,” Tillman said.

The new reality we are all living has made the draft process considerably different than in past years. Since face-to-face meetings can’t happen right now, Tillman has been meeting with NBA teams through Zoom meetings.

“I’ve had two so far with Utah and Detroit. It’s all about these Zoom interviews and how well you perform in those. Answering the questions honestly is the biggest key for those teams because they know everything about you,” Tillman said.

Being born and raised in Michigan, Tillman says the Pistons are a team that is on his list.

“I’ve been a fan of the Bad Boys now that I have been watching them in this Michael Jordan documentary — just getting to know the history a little more. I really wasn’t a Pistons fan growing up. I was just a bandwagon fan of great players. So they are a team that is definitely high on my list of teams I would love to play for, for sure,” he said.

Tillman and his wife welcomed their second child into the world during the previous season. Having a family to support weighs in on his decision, but he says the living situation they’re in right now is stable.

“I just know, either way I’ll be good. It does have meaning in the fact that I want to provide for them the best I can. If that’s not this year, it’s not this year. If it is, it is. So, I’m more than good for either decision I make,” Tillman said.

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