Recruiting & Scouting

Xavier Tillman chooses MSU over Marquette and Purdue

Basketball   | Lenny Padilla

Xavier Tillman chooses MSU over Marquette and Purdue

Grand Rapids - Xavier Tillman of Grand Rapids Christian will be wearing green and white next fall.

The 6-8, 270-pound power forward announced Friday afternoon that he will be attending Michigan State University. Tillman, widely acknowledged as the top basketball prospect in the class of 2017 in Michigan by most recruiting services, selected the Spartans over Marquette and Purdue.

“I chose the Spartans because that is the best fit to achieve my goal of becoming a successful student athlete with a great basketball program,” Tillman said during a news conference at the lunch hour in front of teammates and fellow students. “The idea of being part of the program literally gives me the chills.”

He pulled on an MSU hat and drew a big cheer from the crowd.

“I love coach (Tom) Izzo and the program,” Tillman said. “(The decision was) extremely difficult. I didn’t make my decision until Sunday in my head. It was a battle because all the coaches had great sales (pitches) and I believe in what they were telling me.”

Tillman joins his AAU teammate Jaren Jackson, Jr., in Michigan State’s 2017 recruiting class. Tillman and Jackson played for Spiece Indy Heat out of Fort Wayne, Ind. Jackson, a 6-10 center, plays for La Lumiere in La Porte, Ind.

“The coaches and the players had a huge impact on my decision,” Tillman said “Coach Izzo is a hall of fame coach and knows how to develop players who desire to reach the NBA if they put in the work. And I’ve been told I’m a work horse. I really gelled with the players, especially Tum Tum (Nairn). He’s a guy I look up to.” 

Christian coach Mark Warners said MSU is a great fit for Tillman.

“I could see him as a fit in all three schools,” Warners said. “I’m not that surprised. He likes to stay around home. I think that was a factor. I know he loves the program at Michigan State. The coaches there did a great job recruiting him.”

Tillman never strongly considered Michigan, even though his mother, Tanya Powell-May, was a basketball star for the Wolverines. Powell-May is 12th on U-M’s scoring list with 1,135 career points.

Tillman began his high school career at Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central, where he started on varsity his freshman and sophomore seasons. He sat out the first half of last year after transferring to Christian, where he averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Eagles.

Christian junior guard Duane Washington, Jr., who also is being recruited by Division I schools, said MSU is a great home for Tillman.

“Michigan State just felt like home for him,” said Washington. “The other schools are really good schools. Purdue is known for their big men and Marquette was going to feature him as one of their first options. To pass up on those two to go to a school that feels like home is huge. I’m really happy for him and ready to see what he can do at Michigan State.”

There are areas Tillman needs to work on before playing in the Big Ten.

“Something we’re working on with him is facing the basket,” Warners said. “He’s really good with his back to the basket because he so strong and he’s got good footwork. For him, at the next level, he’s going to have to face the basket and knock some shots down from 15 feet.”