East Lansing, MI – Without Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr., it was easy to assume the Memphis Grizzlies would struggle; yet they've managed the adversity well as their 5-6 record puts them one game out of the playoffs.
However, a large part of that success is due to former Spartan Xavier Tillman Sr. who started the year on the bench due to knee soreness but has quickly established himself.
He is currently anchoring the bench as a backup center, a challenging task for any rookie.
Still, Tillman took it in stride, excelling and passing previous milestones, including a career-high 12 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night.
The 6-foot-8, 245-pound big man, was drafted 35th overall by the Sacramento Kings and acquired by the Grizzlies via trade.
He made his NBA debut on January 3 versus the L.A. Lakers, where Tillman finished 3-for-3 (six points) while grabbing six boards in 17 minutes.
"I was crazy excited, as you saw in the video of me getting picked. I'm like, 'Man, I actually got my name called," Tillman said after the draft. "I'm in the NBA.' It was unbelievable."
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