Xavier Tillman continuing to grow at Michigan State University

MSU Freshman ready to learn from coaches and teammates

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - Former Grand Rapids Christian basketball star Xavier Tillman has barely been in college a few months, but he's already gone through several changes this summer with the Spartans.

The former Mr. Basketball runner up got engaged in May, cut off his dreadlocks earlier this month and he's already lost some weight as he hopes to get in better shape for his freshman season.

All part of the maturity process, he said. "I didn't know if I was going to do all that coming to college. But after being here just two months, I kind of just decided that it's time for me to buck up and become more of a grown up."

Tillman and his teammates stopped by the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital Tuesday, July 18, for "Christmas in July."

Miles Bridges, Matt Mcquaid, Joshua Langford and Jaren Jackson posed for pictures and visited the rooms of sick kids and helped put a smile on their face.

"Just coming to see these kids and doing something outside of basketball that's bigger than yourself is just amazing," said fellow Spartan freshman Jaren Jackson. "It gives you a different outlook on life.

"To make an impact on a young persons life, that's great."

Both freshmen big men say they want to continue to serve as positive role models and represent Michigan State with class, but as their first season of college hoops quickly approaches, they're anxious to make an impact.

"I just want to do whatever it takes to help our team win and do whatever coach asks," Jackson said. "I just want to learn from one of the greatest coaches of all time and try to get better."

Tillman had a more specific focus.

"I want to learn how my teammates got through their freshman year on and off the court. I want to learn how to be a leader from Tum (Lourawls "Tum Tum" Narin), I want to learn how to score from Josh, I want to learn how to pass from Cassius. I want to learn from all the players."

Michigan State opens next season against Duke at the United Center in Chicago on Nov. 14.

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