Michigan State Basketball: 3 reasons Xavier Tillman will return in 2020-21

Xavier Tillman, Michigan State basketball (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Xavier Tillman, Michigan State basketball (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /
3 of 4
Michigan State basketball
Xavier Tillman, Michigan State basketball (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

2. Offensive post game unpolished

On defense, there’s no denying that Xavier Tillman is the best post player in the Big Ten. Heck, Tillman is the best defender in the conference and arguably top five in the nation.

Tillman stands just 6-foot-8 but he plays much bigger on the defensive end. He controlled the post all season long and he proved himself as the best defender in the conference, shutting down the likes of Lamar Stevens, Jalen Smith, Luka Garza (for a half when he wasn’t in foul trouble) and Kofi Cockburn, among others. He was a menace on defense.

That offensive post game, however, is an issue. While it’s serviceable, it’s not nearly where it should be for an All-Big Ten first-teamer. If he could develop a back-to-the-basket game and work on his touch from 5-7 feet out, he’d be nearly unstoppable. He has a quick drop-step that helps him get by defenders every now and then, but he needs to work on that baby-hook.

Tillman has the potential to be a dominant offensive player and his missed layups may have been a theme to start the 2019-20 season, but he eased into action and got his confidence back and we even saw him drilling put-back dunks to win games and reverse layups.

If you’re Tom Izzo, you’re telling Tillman that he’s an undersized big with an average post game on offense and another year could fix that and it could even improve his stock to the lottery-range.