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Just who exactly is Killian Tillie?

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As our season preview progresses, we take a look at one of the new, and many, mysterious faces that will don a Bulldogs uniform.

Killian Tillie

In August 2015, the Zags landed the French forward less than a week after he took his visit to Spokane. He stands at 6’10-ish and weighs supposedly 230 lbs.

Unfortunately, in this day and age of instant information via the Internet, some things, like the abilities of young international players, are still hard to come by. The information isn’t really out there, and much of it comes word of mouth or seen in person.

Tillie is an athletic guy that comes from an athletic family. He is the son of Laurent Tillie, a former male professional volleyball player and the current coach of the French national team. Killian’s brother Kim currently plays for Saskia Baskonia of the Liga ACB after playing four seasons of college basketball with the Utah Utes. The other brother Kévin is a member of the French men’s national volleyball team.

So now that we have met the Tillie’s, let’s try and figure out the player we are most interested on this blog. The hype for Killian started pretty early, namely in January 2015, when Jeff Borzello named him one of the top members of the next wave of international recruits.

The hype was justifiable. In the 2014 U-16 European Championships, Tillie helped power the French to a gold medal over Latvia, averaging 14.3 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.2 steals a game. That line also netted him the tournament MVP. In the title game, a 78-53 win over Latvia, he scored 25 points and grabbed 18 rebounds.

But that is all just numbers, what can we say about his playing style? For that, we have to rely on the limited number of hype videos that exist on YouTube and the ramblings of some of the national pundits.

The first thing that stands out in that video is it looks like Tillie enjoys taking jumpers instead of posting up. Realistically, assuming he gets any playing time next season, this will work out wonders. Przemek Karnowski tends to crowd the paint, so much so that it is hard to have any Gonzaga players down low alongside him. Johnathan Williams is also one of those lunch pail type players. The Zags don’t necessarily need Tillie working on his post game, immediately.

If he is able to come in and demonstrate the ability to hit an outside shot and stretch opposing defenses, he should be able to slide right in. Tillie by no means has Kyle Wiltjer’s shooting touch, but the staff was able to draw up some pretty decent plays that focused on Wiltjer stepping out for a deep shot.

How effective Tillie is will also depend on how well he can hit those shots. Tillie has the look of a more modern day power forward, but as we saw on the days that Wiltjer’s shot was off, it is hard to create value on the court when you are bricking shots. When your four spot is hanging out behind the three-point line, you sacrifice a huge presence in terms of offensive rebounding ability. Karnowski has never been the best offensive rebounder because he lacks the quickness to chase down the ones that get away. Tillie will need to be able to stay aggressive on the offensive glass to compliment his shooting prowess.

There are plenty of minutes to go around for Tillie. With Karnowski and Williams the presumptive starters, he will be able to come in off the bench for Williams. Theoretically, depending on his lateral quickness (although highly unlikely), he could in a pinch attempt to do some sort of damage on the wing. That point seems rather unlikely, especially considering how poorly the attempt of Karnowski, Domantas Sabonis, and Wiltjer worked out last year.

Either way, the Zags got a high-caliber European prospect with an athletic pedigree. Tillie should be able to compete and contribute right away, and will be one of more fluid scoring options off the bench.