Michigan State Basketball: Xavier Tillman rightfully wins Big Ten DPOY

Xavier Tillman Sr., Michigan State basketball (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Xavier Tillman Sr., Michigan State basketball (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

Xavier Tillman was already a known killer on defense and the Michigan State basketball star was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.

Michigan State fans haven’t had to wait long between Big Ten defensive players of the year as Jaren Jackson Jr. won the award back in 2017-18 and now Xavier Tillman is your 2019-20 award winner.

Tillman was one of the most dominant post defenders in the country this season but was somehow left off the national ballot by the Naismith Committee for defensive player of the year. The Big Ten coaches, however, took notice and voted him No. 1 in the conference.

Josh Reaves of Penn State won the award last year, breaking up the two Spartan winners, but Tillman put up some solid numbers on defense in terms of blocked shots. He recorded 2.1 blocks per game and 10.3 rebounds. That may not seem like much, but he became the school’s all-time leader in blocked shots.

While this doesn’t seem like it would be worthy of being named the best defender in the Big Ten, you’d have to consider who he faced and how he fared as an undersized 6-foot-8 center.

In fact, Tillman faced Luka Garza, Jalen Smith, Lamar Stevens, Kofi Cockburn and Kaleb Wesson in a seven-game stretch and played some of the best defense of his career. He shut Luka Garza down (3-of-13 shooting when he was manned up with him) and Lamar Stevens and he held Wesson under 10 points.

Pat Chambers had some high praise for Tillman after the Spartans’ comeback win at Penn State, saying that he’s never seen anyone defend Stevens in four years the way Xavier did.

Next. MSU's final report card for 2019-20 regular season. dark

Tillman is the second Spartan to win the award and is just as deserving as Jackson Jr. was two years ago. He’s proof that not all successful post players need to be 7-footers.