Tag Archives: Tom Izzo

2020 NBA Draft Preview: Xavier Tillman 6’8 245 PF/C-Michigan State

What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): Shed more than 20 pounds from his freshman season. Played both the PF and center positions in school. Excellent passer out of the short roll and in 4-on-3 offensive situations. Defensively, he can guard wings and big men in the post (vs. Luka Garza, Iowa ‘20). Improved year after year in minutes played, blocks per game, rebounds and points per game.  

Weaknesses: Will miss layups and dunks on occasion (Wisconsin ‘20). Scouts will question how well he can finish at the rim at the next level.  Undersized for the power forward and center position at the next level. Can he overcome his physical limitations? Shot just 27.3% from three- point range during his three-year career in East Lansing. Saw his free throw percentage dip from 73% in his sophomore season to 66% as a junior. 

Other Notes:

  • Attended Forest Hills Central High School for his freshman year and for his last three years attended Grand Rapids Christian High School
  • Mother, Tanya, was a four-year letterwinner in women’s basketball at the University of Michigan and finished her career as the school’s all-time leading rebounder
  • Named the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2020 and the Big Ten’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2019
  • Michigan State’s all-time leader in blocked shots
  • 2017-2018 (35 games, 0 sts): 2.8 PPG, 65% FG, 66% FT, 2.6 RPG, 0.3 APG, 0.7 BPG
  • 2018-2019 (39 games, 14 sts):  10 PPG, 60% FG, 73% FT, 7.3 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.7 BPG
  • 2019-2020 (31 games, 31 sts): 13.7 PPG, 55% FG, 67% FT, 10.3 RPG, 3 APG, 2.1 BPG
  • Career:  8.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.6 AST, 58% FG, 69% FT, 1.5 BPG

Time to get NASTY (Our Summary): College basketball fans could see why former Spartan and current Golden State Warriors All-Star Draymond Green allowed Xavier Tillman to wear his now retired number 23 Michigan State jersey.  Both players contain high basketball IQs and compete with intensity on both ends of the floor.

The maturity served the Grand Rapids native well, as he was usually tasked with quarterbacking the defense and handling the opposition’s toughest frontcourt player. Look for Tillman to be a contributor for a playoff team in the mid-to-late first round. His toughness and conditioning will remind hoops enthusiasts of Udonis Haslem and Tillman’s makeup would pair well in Miami under the leadership of Pat Riley. 

Michigan State vs. Florida, 12-8-18: In-game report

Michigan State outlasted Florida on the hardwood in a sloppy game on Saturday.  Despite turning over the ball 15 times, MSU defeated Florida in Gainesville, 63-59, in the out of conference matchup.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

5 Cassius Winston (6’0 185) Michigan State PG-Junior

Winston is in his third season as the starting point guard for the Spartans.  The junior has been asked to shoulder the scoring load left behind by NBA first round draft picks Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson.  Against the Gators, Winston finished with 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting, six assists and two turnovers.  The Spartans currently lack a backup point guard, which has forced Winston into heavy minutes. The junior point guard is averaging 31 minutes per game this season and played 36 minutes against Florida. 

“Cassius is the guy I’m worried about because we’re kind of playing him into the ground right now, so he was tired,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said in advance of the matchup with Florida.  “I mean, him and Josh (Langford) have played a lot of minutes.”

It will be interesting to see how Izzo manages the minutes of Winston as the young season continues on. 

44 Nick Ward (6’8 245) Michigan State center-Junior 

Nick Ward is also in his junior season and -like Winston- is being asked to do more.  The center decided to rescind his name from 2018 NBA Draft consideration and returned to East Lansing this past offseason. F oul trouble and conditioning have been a problem for Ward in the past but this season, he looks quicker and has done a better job of moving his feet defensively, especially on ball screens. Against Florida, Ward finished with 13 points and five rebounds.  On the season, he is averaging 15 points and five rebounds per game on 21 minutes of action.  The junior could garner NBA consideration as a second round draft pick because of his long arms (7’2” wingspan) and efficiency around the basket (64-percent field goal percentage). 

11 Keyontae Johnson (6’5 225) Florida SF-Freshman 

Oak Hill Academy (Virginia) has produced top NBA talent in the past and names like Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo and Brandon Jennings come to mind.  Keyontae Johnson could be the next in line.  The Norfolk, Virginia, native is still trying to find his comfort zone on offense but the physical tools are there. Johnson is averaging six points and four rebounds per game during his 17 minutes of play. At 6’5”, 225, Johnson has good size for an NBA wing and despite his low scoring output, he has been efficient, shooting 53 percent from the field.   The freshman won’t be a one-and-done, but this time next season look for Johnson to surface on the radars of NBA teams. 

5 KeVaughn Allen (6’2 193) Florida  PG-Senior

Allen is the experienced leader of the Gators.  The four-year starter is a scoring machine, who can handle the ball but will be better served as a shooting guard at the next level.  The senior finished 13 points on 5-of-15 shooting against the Spartans but he also had three turnovers.  Allen is undersized for the shooting guard position and his ability to create for others is lacking. Look for the Gators point guard to spend some time in the G League or overseas after he leaves Florida.