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Tillman: A major force for the Doughboys


Justin Tillman

By Harry M. Anderson, Jr.
Special to the Michigan Citizen

At six-feet-seven-inches tall, Justin Tillman is heads over his opponents — not just in height, but also in his style of play. The Pershing High power forward is a towering force under the basket and in the paint for the Doughboys.

“He is a great kid who works hard and never complains,” said Pershing Head Coach Wydell Henry. “He’s tough and plays hard.”

Tillman really loves the game and gets into it at the tip off. “To me the crowd is huge and the people either root for or against you,” he explained during a post-game interview. “You hear the cheers and the crowd’s response when you score or make a big play.”

Tillman has made many big plays and thundering dunks, bringing the crowd to its feet. His statistics on the court speak for themselves. In two recent games, Tillman was a major force upping the Doughboys’ current record to 6-1. Against King on Jan. 10, Tillman poured in 20 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and blocked three shots and in a sold-out, standing room only crowd at the East English Village New Year’s Classic. Tillman helped his fellow Doughboys wrench out a two-point 72-70 victory over the previously unbeaten Consortium Prep Cougars firing in 23 points, with 16 rebounds, four blocks and two steals.

Other top performances by Tillman this year:

n Against Southfield High during the PSL Holiday Hoops Classic at Cass Tech: 24 points in Pershing’s 74-53 rout of the Blue Jays.

n Against Ypsilanti High during the Battle of the Best Classic at Renaissance High: 14 points in the Doughboys 57-52 win.

n Against Chicago Morgan Park during the Derrick Coleman Classic at Mumford: 27 points and 16 rebounds in a losing effort.

Playing the game since the age of seven, Tillman was influenced and encouraged by his father, his Uncle Cory, cousin Darrin and Coach Henry.

“They not only taught me basketball, but also right from wrong,” he said. “As for basketball, they taught me in the gym. As for life they taught me to be a man and never give up.”

Tillman says he feels good about being a student-athlete at Pershing.

“The people at the school are teaching me to be a man through education. As for the team, I like the way the coaches are building the team through character,” he says. “I feel Coach Henry is a second dad because he cares about me and the rest of the team. He wants all of us to go to college.”

As for college, Tillman signed a national letter of intent to attend Virginia Commonwealth University on a basketball scholarship. He’ll be majoring in engineering and business.

“I signed with VCU because I like playing their style of basketball,” he said. “They have guys like me that go hard. The coach cares about taking the game to the next level. I just play basketball because I like the challenge to see how far I can go.”

Tillman has seen ups and downs during his two years with the Doughboys. During Tillman’s tenure, the Doughboys were state-runners up in 2012 and PSL Champs last year. In the state tournament, Tillman and his teammates — the district and regional and champions — fell short in quarter-finals to Romulus. Now a senior, Tillman hopes he can end his career with not only a second straight PSL crown, but a Class A State Championship.

“I feel good about this season,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about the (Class A) state playoffs. We’ve been working hard in practice. We have to fight hard and keep our eyes on the prize to achieve our goals: PSL and Class A State Champions.”

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