Michael Allie tutors some naturally gifted athletes with the Detroit Reach Legends. When the game comes easy to some players, complacency can enter the picture.
Allie doesn't worry about those dips with Justin Tillman. The Pershing High forward mixes a high skill level with maximum drive.
"Justin will bring toughness and a great work ethic to any team he decides to play for in college," Allie said. "I've never had to coach effort with him and I can't say that about most kids I've coached. Justin wants to win and he understands what it takes to be a winner. He's a great kid who lives his life off the court the right way as well."
Tillman excelled this summer for Reach.
"Justin rebounded and blocked shots at a high level throughout July on the AAU circuit," Allie said. "He ran the floor well and was able to show his versatility on the offensive end."
College coaches noticed. Iowa, Iowa State, Detroit, Oakland, Dayton, Rhode Island, Providence, VCU, Indiana State, Xavier, Kent State, Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan and Toledo have offered Tillman scholarships, Allie said.
"The most important thing for me is finding a school that is the right fit," the 6-foot-7, 185-pound Tillman said. "I want to play in the NCAA tournament and win championships. I'll go to the school that I think will give me the best opportunity to have a successful college career and future after college."
"Right now, Justin is focusing on those schools that have made him a top priority," Allie said.
Tillman is more interested in feeling wanted and fitting in than landing at a big-name program.
"I want to go to a school that really cares for their players on and off the court," he said. "I want coaches that are going to stay in the gym with me and work to improve my skills. It's also important the school has a good tutoring program in place so I can make sure I get my degree.
"I want a coach that is going to push me to reach my full potential. The schools I'm most interested in have coaches that are full of energy and know what it takes to win."
Iowa has shown a high level of interest in Tillman this summer. Hawkeye coaches attended many of the Reach games.
"We're thankful that Coach (Fran) McCaffery and Coach (Andrew) Francis came out to see us play during each live period," Allie said. "There is definitely mutual interest and Justin is doing his research to see if Iowa is the right fit for him."
Francis and Tillman are developing a relationship.
"Coach Francis has been great to talk to and helped me understand what Iowa is all about," Tillman said. "I don't know too much about the rest of the coaching staff but I'm sure I'll learn much more when I visit. Coach McCaffery seemed very passionate when I watched Iowa on TV.
"Coach Allie tells me that Iowa could beat any team in the Big Ten next year and that their future is very bright. I don't know too much about them yet but I'm trying to learn more each day."
Tillman has visited Detroit, Oakland, Eastern Michigan, Indiana State and Xavier. He's scheduled to see VCU this month. He expects to drop by other campuses but no dates have been set.
Tillman is considering business and engineering majors.
"I am still undecided at this point," he said. "After my senior year, I think I'll have a better feel for what interests me the most."