Donnie Tillman, a 6’7 forward from high school basketball powerhouse Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nv.), is a four-star prospect on Cal’s radar for the 2017 recruiting class. He currently holds offers from Boston College, Cal, Creighton, Dayton, Iowa State, Marquette, San Diego State, St. Mary’s, TCU, Toledo, UNLV, USC, Utah, UTEP, and Virginia Tech.
An article on ZagsBlog referenced a quote from Tillman about his timetable for commitment.
“I’m going to sign during the late period and probably commit mid-season,” said Tillman. “Hopefully, I will commit before the national tournament.”
Tillman, who took an official visit to Utah last month (Nov. 28), plans to visit TCU later this month. “I have a TCU visit coming up on December 29,” said Tillman. “I just want to make sure that I go to the right spot.”
Tillman did visit TCU last month, and he was scheduled to visit Cal this Sunday when the Bears take on Stanford, but — for reasons unknown — Tillman is no longer visiting Cal.
Big weekend at California as Donnie Tillman & Justice Sueing will take official visits to the Pac 12 program https://t.co/d3QCoQDdpe— Corey Evans (@coreyevans_10) January 25, 2017
Confirmed: 2017 3-star small forward Justice Sueing is visiting #Cal this weekend; 2017 3-star SF Donnie Tillman is no longer visiting.— Ben Parker (@slamdunk406) January 26, 2017
This is certainly not ideal, but, without knowing why he is no longer visiting, we cannot definitively mark this down as a critical blow to Cal’s chances of signing Tillman.
Ryan Gorcey wrote an interesting article for Scout about Tillman’s background and his relationship with Cuonzo Martin and the rest of the Cal coaching staff. Here’s a snippet, but it’s definitely worth reading in its entirety.
Not far down that list of rough-and-tumble cities is Detroit. That's where 2017 wing Donnie Tillman was born. At the age of 13, his mother, Donna Holmes, suffered a grand maul seizure. It was the most severe outward sign of epilepsy. She couldn't work a regular job. It was a wake-up call for Holmes and her two sons -- Tillman and now-former Wayne State basketball player Clark Bishop, who's five years older than Tillman. Bishop took care of both his brother and his mother, until he went off to college.
Just a few years after that grand maul seizure, before Tillman's sophomore year of high school, Tillman and Holmes moved out to Nevada, where Tillman and his cousin Kitaka Holmes share care of Donna, while Tillman attends Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep.
Even before the Bears and Martin extended a scholarship offer to Tillman on Monday, the sons of East St. Louis and Detroit had compared notes.
"For about a week, me and coach [Tracy] Webster and coach Martin, we've been talking very day, sometimes two times a day, sometimes nonstop," Tillman said. "I really relate to these guys. They genuinely have my interest at heart, and I can really relate to them. We come from the same background. He overcame adversity, and I have, also. That's what life's about. Just keep working hard and keep pushing through."
That wasn’t the end of the adversity for Tillman, though, as he suffered a season-ending knee injury during his junior campaign.
"All I've been through, it made this easier to get through," Tillman said. "I've been through worse. I didn't expect to b out for the whole season, but I've been through worse."
That's what Martin loves so much about Tillman -- the tenacity, the gumption, the perseverance. It translates to the court, as well. At a rangy 6-foot-7, Tillman can make an impact on both ends of the floor, and can guard the two, three and four. He passes well out of the mid-post, and he's a scorer, too, who can create from multiple positions. One observer pegged his best NBA comparison -- at least in motor and broad skill set -- to Draymond Green.
Tillman also states that “education is number one” as far as what’s important to him in the recruiting process, something that bodes well for the Bears.
The Findlay Prep forward is listed as a three-star prospect by Rivals and Scout, and a four-star prospect by ESPN.
After watching his highlight video, which I’ll post below, it is easy to see why Tillman is drawing interest from so many high-quality basketball programs. He displays a wide-range of skill-sets from acrobatic and artful layups in traffic to thunderous dunks. He also shows off his ability to step out and hit some jumpers, while also making smart passes in the post and intelligent cuts to the hoop when off of the ball. Tillman also displays a knack for rim defending as he swats away several shot attempts in the video.
Tillman would be an excellent signing for the Bears, as he displays all of the typical qualities one associates with a Cal player under Martin. He’s tough, plays hard, values academics, competes down low, and has the athleticism to guard multiple positions tenaciously. I’m not sure what happened as far as the visit cancellation goes, but hopefully he makes his way over to Haas Pavilion for an official or unofficial visit eventually.
Bears fans, what are your thoughts on Tillman as a player? What do you think about the visit cancellation?
Sound off below!