Darren Tillis worked one season at Tennessee State University. He came to that program after serving as an assistant coach at Clemson University. "I'm very excited about being here," said Tillis. "I've known Coach Jones for a while, and he has a good vision of what he wants to do here. He's very passionate and energetic about that vision, and I see the future being very bright here at Marshall." Tillis, a 1982 NBA first-round draft pick for the Boston Celtics, will work with the TSU post players along with other duties as assigned by head coach Cy Alexander. He joined Clemson in April 1998 with head coach Larry Shyatt. Tillis was also with Shyatt at Wyoming and helped the Cowboys to a 19-9 record and a berth in the National Invitation Tournament.
After a stellar high school career at Lincoln High in Dallas, Tillis was recruited to Cleveland State by an assistant coach named Larry Shyatt. Within the Cleveland State program, Tillis flourished, serving as a four-year starter for a program that averaged almost 18 wins a season. In fact, Cleveland State won exactly 18 games each of his last three years and had a winning season every year. As a senior in college, Tillis was named a Sporting News Honorable Mention All-American, thanks in part to a 17.3 scoring average and 12.8 rebound average in 1981-82. He is still considered one of the greatest players in Cleveland State history, and ranks first in school history in career blocked shots (171), second in rebounds (1,045) and fourth in scoring (1,423).
Tillis was the 21st selection in the NBA draft by the Boston Celtics. At midseason, he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In 1983-84 he was traded to the Golden State Warriors. In 1984-85, Tillis's playing career moved to Europe and the Italian League, perhaps the finest European professional basketball league. He played in Italy two years and his team won the championship both seasons. He averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds per game for the two seasons. At the end of the 1985-86 season, Tillis suffered a head injury, as an opponent undercut him while dunking. The injury led to a battle with epilepsy and it put his career on hold. Tillis sat out 1988-89, then played a year in Spain before retiring from active play permanently.
Tillis began his coaching career in Europe as head coach of Ockelbo, Sweden. He was the head coach of that professional team for two years, 1993-94 and 1994-95. His first stint as a Division I college coach was in 1995-96 at SMU where he worked under John Shumate. He returned to school full time in 1996 and earned his bachelor's degree from Paul Quinn College in Dallas. The following season, 1997-98, he was back in the coaching ranks working for the man who recruited him to college, Larry Shyatt. Tillis played a big part in Wyoming's most successful season in 10 years.