Xavier Tillman returns home to host inaugural basketball camp

Grand Rapids native turned NBA forward gives back
Xavier Tillman returns home to host inaugural basketball camp
Posted at 2:48 PM, Jul 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-07 22:59:10-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Wednesday was day three of four for the Xavier Tillman basketball camp at MSA Woodland.

The former Grand Rapids Christian Eagle turned NBA forward is focused on giving back to the community that has given him so much.

"Once I got my opportunity playing professional basketball, I figured this would be a good opportunity for me to give back," said Tillman.

Xavier Tillman hosts inaugural basketball camp

Life has truly come full circle for the Memphis Grizzlies forward after recently finishing his rookie year in the NBA.

Now, he's helping local kids here in West Michigan that want to be just like him.

"This is what I grew up doing, my mom played basketball at the University of Michigan, we have a big basketball pedigree so coming up she put me in all these camps like Sugar Mel, Thomas Kelley, Ken George, Kyle Visser, all the camps like that."

Xavier Tillman smiles during camp drills
Xavier Tillman smiles and claps during a drill for campers at his inaugural basketball camp.

Tillman was joined by former Michigan State teammates such as Malik Hall, Gabe Brown and Grand Rapids Catholic Central alum, Marcus Bingham Jr.

"Everybody has dreams," Bingham Jr. told FOX 17. "All the kids are coming up to me and saying they want to go to Michigan State and things like that and I'm telling them to dream big and work hard."

And it was Bingham Jr. making the day of 12-year-old Kylen Poindexter of Grand Rapids.

"This camp is really cool, especially Marcus, he's a good friend but he can't guard me," he smiled.
When asked about his inability to guard a 12-year-old camper, Bingham Jr. was all laughs.

Xavier Tillman hosts first-ever basketball camp
Xaviier Tillman and Marcus Bingham Jr. feel the hair of 12-year-old camper Kylen Poindexter during Wednesday's camp.

"Yeah, all the kids think I can't guard them, they have some moves on them but if we're being realistic, I want all of that," he chuckled. "I mean, I'm seven-foot."

Kids from fourth grade all the way to high school learned from Tillman and the other players but also had time to get to know them one-on-one and get autographs.

"It's really cool, this is my first time meeting Xavier, so when I first met him, it was just really cool," said 11-year-old camper Jonah Kriekard. "We've learned a lot of offensive drills and defensive drills and about sacrifice."

Xavier Tillman signs autographs
Xavier Tillman signs a camper's shirt during Wednesday's camp.

While several kids showed up in Michigan State shirts or even Xavier Tillman jerseys, some just wanted to ruffle some feathers.

"I'm wearing a Michigan shirt because Michigan is the best," smiled camper Isaiah Boonstra. "But Xavier is turning me into a little bit of a Michigan State fan."

While the basketball lessons are important, the biggest thing Tillman wants the kids to takeaway is fun and big dreams.

"For these kids to just dream of being in the NBA and be motivated by that and every day wake up thinking they'll be the next Steph Curry, LeBron James or Xavier Tillman, you know what, that's good enough for me."