Scouting Report: Tilmon is a presence on the inside with his size and skill. He is an impactful rebounder with a 6-foot-10 frame and a 7-foot-2 wing span. He can alter shots at the defensive end as well. But what makes him a 5-star talent is his offensive game. Tilmon has good footwork and he is only scratching the surface of how good he can be with his back to the basket. He can turn and face too, and he’s a threat to hit the mid-range. As he develops his toolbox of moves and his physical skills, he can be a serious problem for opposing defenses. Right now, Tilmon isn’t there yet. He needs to improve his conditioning and motor, while refining his moves to have a few that he can execute at a high efficiency.
First-year Impact: More likely than not, Tilmon isn’t going to set the Big Ten on fire his freshman year. But he’s going to give Illinois a legit five after Mike Thorne Jr. and Maverick Morgan exit the frontcourt. Tilmon should average double figures and provide around six boards per game. He will get post touches and he will rebound consistently. Durability may be a concern, though. He’ll probably play just 20 minutes per game, or a shade more. His upside will be evident, but he’ll need another season to show it consistently.
Ceiling: NBA starter. There are only a handful of guys who can play down low in the NBA. Tilmon has the length, natural build and skill to play at the highest level for more than a decade. But that’s not all that it takes. He has to be a workout warrior – both with skill work (moves, positioning, shot, etc.) and in the weight room (strength, explosion and conditioning). But if he reaches his physical peak, and with his skill set, he can be a highly-paid NBA starter down the road.
Reminds Me Of: Noah Vonleh. An instant-producing big man in the Big Ten with length, skill and the ability to be an impact rebounder. Like Vonleh, Tilmon is a talent that can be a first-round pick in the NBA Draft at some point. Vonleh was extremely impressive as a freshman with more than 11 points and nine rebounds per game at Indiana. Will Tilmon drop jaws like that in Year One? Maybe not, but he will before his stint in Champaign is over. Vonleh is more athletic and mobile, and he also has more of a capability to hit jumpers from range. But Vonleh was a monumental get for Tom Crean in a makeover class. And that’s what Tilmon is for John Groce, and he can bring some similar attributes to a frontcourt that desperately needs them.
Werner’s narrative: Tilmon is the elite prospect who finally said 'yes' to John Groce and the first to sign with Illinois since Dee Brown signed with Bill Self in 2002. He is the first recruit with no-doubt NBA talent since Meyers Leonard. That said, don't expect Anthony Davis or DeMarcus Cousins production. Tilmon is talented and will absolutely change the way Illinois plays just with his huge presence in the paint -- much like Mike Thorne Jr. does right now -- but some uninformed fans likely will expect way too much out of Tilmon, who is coming off shoulder surgery. But there also is urgency to get the most out of Tilmon as quickly as possible because his eye is on the NBA. If Tilmon reaches his potential at Illinois -- likely over two seasons -- he could help Illinois draw more no-doubt NBA talents.
Quote: “I take pride in loyalty. Illinois didn't wait for me to blow up to start looking at me. All those other schools did. I have faith in Illinois. That is home for me.”null