Tag: France


French power forward Killian Tillie commits to Gonzaga

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Over the years Gonzaga’s had a great deal of success with international prospects, not just recruiting them but developing them into high-level college basketball players. Saturday head coach Mark Few landed another international prospect, as forward Killian Tillie became the Bulldogs’ second commitment in the Class of 2016.

News of Tillie’s verbal commitment was first reported by Jim Meehan of the Spokesman-Review, and he joins center Zach Collins in the class to date.

The 6-foot-8 Tillie, whose older brother Kim played at Utah, is a native of France who plays for INSEP Academy in Paris. Last summer Tillie represented France at the FIBA U16 European Championships, averaging 14.3 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in helping lead the team to the title. Tillie, who led the event in field goal percentage (63.4 percent), was named tournament MVP.

Tillie also represented France in this summer’s FIBA U18 3-on-3 World Championships, an event in which the French finished third. France defeated the United States team, which included Tillie’s future teammate Collins, in the quarterfinals.

Tillie and Collins are key additions for Gonzaga moving forward, as they’ll lose seniors Kyle Wiltjer and Przemek Karnowski at the end of the 2015-16 campaign. Both Tillie and Collins have the skill to be immediate contributors for the Bulldogs when they arrive on campus, and given the departures they’ll need to be.

French pro team Caen Calvados has some fun at DePaul’s expense

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One of four Big East programs taking summer trips overseas, DePaul is hoping that this summer is the beginning of a second successful run at the school for head coach Dave Leitao. Leitao led the program for three seasons from 2002-05, a stretch that included DePaul’s last NCAA tournament berth in 2004.

The Blue Demons are currently in France, where Wednesday they played their first game of the trip against pro club Caen Calvados and the result wasn’t a good one. A late first quarter run gave Caen a 15-point lead at the of the first stanza, and they would go on to win by the final score of 96-62. Caen shot 14-for-28 from three on the night, outscoring DePaul 42-3 from beyond the arc while shooting better than 58 percent from the field.

And if the result wasn’t bad enough, Caen tweeted out a GIF of boxing great Muhammad Ali following the win.

To quote Dave Chappelle’s version of Rick James, “that was cold-blooded.” According to Caen’s social media director it was an good-natured exchange that began six days before the game was played.

The Blue Demons can redeem itself when they play their next game on the trip Sunday evening.

Assigned reading: St. John’s grew up this summer

photo courtesy St. John's Sports Information
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photo courtesy St. John’s Sports Information

It’s always helpful to remember that famous people are human. That goes double for college athletes, who are, after all, college kids.

Every time I read a tut-tutting expose about a college basketball player’s off-court indiscretions, one thought runs through my mind: thank god nobody was watching me that closely when I was 19.

That’s what I love about “Taking Europe by Red Storm,” an inside look at the St. John’s basketball team penned by Reid Forgrave for Fox Sports. Not only is it a lovely travelogue of the team’s time in Paris this summer, but it reveals the humanity behind some players who have acquired a bad, bad rep in the national press in the past.

Take the story of D’Angelo Harrison, for instance.

What everyone knows about Harrison is this: A bad attitude got him kicked off the team last season, despite being the team’s leading scorer and despite St. John’s being on the cusp of an NCAA tournament bid when Lavin booted his leading scorer. He was painted as a bad apple. Meet Harrison, though, and you’ll realize the bad-apple tag doesn’t ring true.

He’s charismatic and funny, smart and cocky, yet also the type to notice when someone is sitting alone and go bring the loner back into the fray. When the team visited the St. John’s campus in Paris, Harrison befriended a nun and bought a rosary from her. He’s a natural leader, the type of player you root for, yet someone with plenty of demons.

Do I believe that superb athletes catch breaks they shouldn’t from time to time? Yes. I also believe that college coaches quite often are doing their best to teach these raw college kids humility and responsibility while they still can. Stories like this one help us hit a more realistic middle point on the lionizing-demonizing scale that dominates our national conversation too often.

As I noted, it’s also a nice look at what goes on during an overseas trip. For a young team like St. John’s, this kind of trip can pay real dividends in team chemistry. It’s a good image to have in the back of your mind when you watch the Red Storm take the court this season.