East Lansing, MI – Xavier Tillman Sr. 's NBA career is nearing tip-off following draft night when he was picked by the Sacramento Kings with the 35th overall pick and traded to Memphis.
Nerve-racking as it was, he's beyond thrilled to get started.
"I was crazy excited, as you saw in the video of me getting picked. I'm like, 'Man; I actually got my name called," said Tillman. "I'm in the NBA.' It was unbelievable."
Landing with the Grizzlies proved to be the right move for Tillman, as he's reunited with Jaren Jackson Jr., a former teammate and best man in his wedding, so it's no surprise the fourth-selection in the 2018 NBA Draft coached him throughout the night.
"He was talking to me, and he was texting me and calling me throughout the draft (saying), 'Just breathe, you're good, just breathe.' Because he knew, obviously, I could try to keep it cool the best I can, but he knew that I was going crazy on the inside," Tillman said.
Jackson and Tillman became close playing AAU basketball before both committed to Michigan State in 2017, highlighting a Spartan class ranked 49th in the nation and seventh in the Big Ten.
"I don't know if Jaren called us or we called Jaren, but we were on the phone within like 20 seconds of me getting picked," he said. "Everybody was so excited – just to be reconnected again … it's great."
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