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Forward Killian Tillie returning for junior season at Gonzaga

UPDATED: Wed., April 11, 2018, 4:51 p.m.

Gonzaga forward Killian Tillie cuts the nets after the Zags defeated BYU for the WCC Tournament championship March 6. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga forward Killian Tillie cuts the nets after the Zags defeated BYU for the WCC Tournament championship March 6. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

A good week keeps getting better for Gonzaga’s 2019 men’s basketball team.

Forward Killian Tillie announced Wednesday that he will return to Gonzaga for his junior season.

“After reviewing options with my family, I’ve decided to stay at Gonzaga,” Tillie said in a school news release. “I’m excited to continue my college career. I love playing here and being a part of the amazing culture at GU.”

Tillie was listed on several NBA mock drafts, including Yahoo Sports’ recent projection of the versatile 6-foot-10 native of France as a late first-round selection.

GU’s release noted that Tillie “will not pursue any professional options.” The Zags have had a number of international standouts that often have professional options overseas in addition to the weighing the possibilty of testing the NBA waters.

Tillie’s high basketball IQ, perimeter shooting ability and soft touch around the basket make him an intriguing pro prospect. His decision to return gives him at least one more year to add muscle and pounds to his 215-pound frame.

Tillie’s return, which comes three days after Rui Hachimura announced he’s coming back for his junior season, means the Zags should have one of the top frontcourts in the nation next season. Tillie and Hachimura are joined by San Jose State transfer Brandon Clarke, a first-team All-Mountain West Conference selection as a sophomore, rising sophomore center Jacob Larsen and incoming freshman Filip Petrusev.

“People have seen what Rui and Tillie have done and they’re obviously going to get better and better every year,” point guard Josh Perkins said. “Brandon is a physical specimen. It’s been fun playing with Tillie and Rui and adding a piece like ‘BC’, that’s three athletes with a capital A.”

There will be plenty of hype around Gonzaga, which is coming off a 32-5 season and a Sweet 16 appearance. Numerous media outlets’ preseason polls have the Zags in the top 10, one as high as No. 5, and that was before Hachimura and Tillie announced their plans.

“We lose some tremendous players in Silas (Melson) and J3 (Johnathan Williams),” Perkins said. “We’re going to be really good. We were good this year and we proved some people wrong, but I think now we’ll have the respect going in. It’s our job not to let up and keep getting better over the summer.”

Tillie earned second-team All-WCC honors. He was second on the team in scoring (12.9), rebounding (5.9) and total blocks (37). His 58-percent shooting and 48-percent 3-point accuracy led all Gonzaga players that averaged double-digit minutes. He had a team-high eight 20-point games.

Tillie put on a show at the WCC Tournament in Las Vegas. He averaged 24 points while connecting on 78 percent of his field-goal attempts in three wins. He hit 13 of 14 3-pointers, including 11 in a row.

Tillie made just 3 of 12 shots and averaged 4.5 points in two NCAA Tournament games. He battled foul trouble against Ohio State. He missed the Sweet 16 loss to Florida State with a hip injury.

“I’m anxious to play another season under great coaches with a great group of teammates,” Tillie said. “And, I can’t forget to mention how great it is to play in front of the Kennel Club and all of our Zag fans.”


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