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Gonzaga junior forward Killian Tillie testing NBA draft waters

UPDATED: Sun., April 21, 2019

Gonzaga junior forward Killian Tillie has decided to test the NBA draft waters.

Tillie is entering his name in the June 20 draft and plans to hire an agent, according to a school release.

Tillie is the fourth Bulldogs underclassman in the span of a week to declare, joining juniors Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke and sophomore Zach Norvell Jr. That’s the most in program history. The 2017 team saw three players declare – Zach Collins, Nigel Williams-Goss and Johnathan Williams – with Williams eventually opting to return for his senior season.

Under the new rules, a player can hire an agent and go through the draft process, but must end the relationship by May 29 if he chooses to return to school.

“Playing in the NBA has been a long-term goal of mine and I know I have a unique opportunity to fulfill this dream,” Tillie said. “I plan to take the pre-draft process extremely seriously. I want to thank Coach (Mark) Few and the coaching staff for their backing on this decision, along with the support and love from my family.

“I also want to thank my teammates for three incredible years, along with the most amazing fans in the country at Gonzaga.”

Tillie was limited to 15 games this past season by foot and ankle injuries. He shot 50% from the field, including 43.8% on 3-pointers, and averaged 6.2 points and 3.9 rebounds in 16.6 minutes.

Tillie was a reserve on the 2017 team, averaging 4.2 points and 3.2 assists in 12.3 minutes per game.

He averaged 12.9 points and 5.9 rebounds as a starter in 2018, hitting 58% of his field-goal attempts and 48 percent beyond the 3-point line. Tillie was named most outstanding player of the WCC Tournament after draining 13 of 14 3-pointers. He didn’t enter his name in the draft after suffering a hip injury that sidelined him in the Sweet 16 loss to Florida State.

Tillie doesn’t appear in most mock drafts, but he is listed at No. 60, the last pick of the second round, by NBAdraftroom.com. Tillie is No. 59 on The Athletic’s Big Board. He’s No. 82 in ESPN’s top 100 and No. 96 according to NBAdraft.net.

He returned from a partially torn plantar fascia in his foot after a month’s absence to play in the WCC Tournament. He knocked down three 3-pointers in a semifinal rout over Pepperdine.

Tillie scored a season-high 17 points in a rout over Fairleigh Dickinson in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. He scored just eight points in 49 minutes in the Zags’ final three tournament games.

Tillie wasn’t fully healthy at the end of the season, but he’s had roughly three more weeks of recovery time since the Zags’ Elite Eight loss to Texas Tech in Anaheim.

Tillie is an interesting prospect with his 6-foot-10, 220-pound frame and ability to stretch the court with his 3-point shooting, but NBA teams will certainly want to learn more about the French native’s health status.

“We feel horrible for Killian with the bad run of injuries he’s had, but we’re hoping he can get healthy and have a good stretch of workouts and show how talented of a player he is,” Few said. “We will support him and help him make the best decision.”

If the trio of Hachimura, Clarke and Tillie remain in the draft, the Zags would have only one returning frontcourt player. Filip Petrusev, a 6-11 native of Serbia, was the third big when Tillie was sidelined, but saw limited playing time when Tillie was available.

Petrusev, a rising sophomore, was sixth on the team at 6.5 points per game.

Gonzaga’s incoming recruiting class, ranked as high as fifth nationally, is loaded with size, including 6-11 Oumar Ballo, 6-10 Drew Timme, 6-10 Pavel Zakharov and 6-9 Anton Watson. Timme is rated No. 40, Watson No. 44, Zakharov No. 51 and Ballo No. 73, according to 247sports.com.

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