Donnie Tillman is an elite student-athlete currently attending Findlay Prep in Las Vegas, but originally from Detroit. The 6’7 combo-forward standout is currently ranked among the top players in the country for the class of 2017 per recruiting services such as ESPN and Scout. Best known for being a great ball-handler and rebounder at his size, Donnie also excels in the classroom as an honor-roll student carrying a 3.4 GPA at Findlay Prep.
I. HIGH SCHOOL SEASON AND SELF-ANALYSIS
EM: You were off to a very strong start in the early part of the season, averaging 16.8ppg and 10.7rebs, how were you able to mentally cope with the injury situation?
DT: Staying positive and being around my teammates. Everyone from my family to my past coaches told me that my health is #1 and do not try to rush back. Also, I’m more than just a kid who plays basketball, I have other hobbies and activities I partake in so that also kept me busy.
EM: Can you describe your game for those that are not familiar?
DT: I have no true position, I’m just a very versatile player. I can step out on the perimeter, post up, run some point, I just do it all. I play both sides of the ball and I’m a defensive-minded player first. I love defense!
EM: How often do you work on your game per week?
DT: 5-6 times a week, twice a day when I’m at full health. I do pool workouts, hit the weight room, and then the finish the day off with a late night workout for an hour and a half, and that doesn’t include practice.
II. ACADEMIC/PERSONAL INTERESTS & BACKGROUND
EM: Can we talk a bit about your interests as a student? What is your favorite subject and do you have a particular major in mind when attending college?
DT: My favorite subject is Math of course, I’m great with numbers and in college I want to major in Pyschology and Sociology.
EM: What are your interests off the court?
DT: I love to read, play games, and go hiking. I try to get out as much as possible
EM: Was the move to Las Vegas/Findlay Prep difficult?
DT: My first year it was very difficult to adjust to the situation, it’s a college setting at Findlay, so I had to look after myself. But after the conditioning kicked in and we started winning some games, I can truly say this place is my new home.
EM: With your family still back in Detroit, can you shed some light as to how your family/support group helped you with the transition to Las Vegas
DT: My mother and auntie moved down here with me and just having her around and knowing that she gave up a lot to support me, just motivates me even more. We came here with nothing, but with the help of my brother Clark who plays for WSU and some other family members we got through it. Most people don’t know this, but we drove from Detroit to Las Vegas on a 4 day trip and had to sleep in the car rather than hotels, but it was a journey we were willing to take.
EM: You seem to be a very humble and mature young man, can you describe your overall demeanor and work ethic?
DT: My motto is just to Stay Positive and Work Hard, that’s all. And that you can learn from anybody, especially people who coached longer or played longer than me, there is always an opportunity to get better.
EM: Shifting a bit to recruiting, can you tell us which schools have offered you?
DT: Marquette, Iowa State, UNLV, USC, San Diego State, UTEP, Dayton, Toledo, Creighton, Boston College, Cleveland State have offered. I also have interest from and speak with Michigan, Michigan State, Memphis, TCU, Iowa, Georgia, Butler, UofD, Washington State, Southern Miss, Kansas
EM: Which schools do you hear from the most?
DT: Marquette as of right now, we talk on a daily basis.
EM: Any visits lined up in the near future?
DT: Not yet,maybe in the summer.
EM: Growing up, were you a fan of any particular school?
DT: I always loved MSU and UofM, always tried to go to their games.
EM: Being that you’re originally from Michigan, can you talk a bit about your relationship with the Michigan schools – UofM and MSU?
DT: I talked with Izzo and Beilien a couple times and a couple of assistants, but since I’ve been injured they haven’t been able to come out here and see me play.
EM: What factors are important to you and your family when making your college decision?
DT: Relationship with the coaches and does the school have what I want to major in.
EM: Do you have a decision timeline?
DT: I’m planning on committing during my senior year. I just want to be sure with my decision and everyone in my circle agrees.
EM: Can we talk about AAU a bit, I know you’ve split time with The Family and the Detroit Stars in the past – do you plan on running with either of those programs again this summer?
DT: This year I will be running with the Oakland Soldiers. I have great friends with both The Family and the Detroit Stars, and I wish those guys the best of luck.
V. PERSONAL GOALS AND ADVICE
EM: Any personal goals, either on or off the court?
DT: I just want to win………that’s all, and continue to improve
EM: Last, if you could give the youth some advice on how to succeed either on or off the court, what would you say?
DT: Always put in extra work if you want to make it or play at a high level. You have to do things that others won’t. Follow the simple recipe of staying humble and working hard.