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Posted On: 05/8/18 5:51 PM
Despite a standout all-PIL senior season at Grant in 2015-16, Russell Tillery didn’t have many four-year college options. So the quick 6-foot, 175-pound guard went the junior college route to further develop his game and get more exposure. Two years later, Tillery feels he’s a new man both on and off the court and he’s looking for a spot to continue his college career.
“It seems like I’m a whole new player,” Tillery said. “Honestly coming out of high school I was like every other kid wanting to go D-I and wanting to be on TV and saying I got that D-I scholly. But JUCO is a whole different world.”
Tillery started his collegiate career at City College of San Francisco where he averaged 2.2 points, 1.1 rebounds, and 0.6 assists in a backup role. Despite the limited playing time he’s grateful for the experience. “It’s by far the best junior college program in the country in my eyes and I credit them a lot for my success,” Tillery said. “Without going to City College I would not be the person/player I am today. Practice was a competition everyday – we were straight grinding, man.”
“Nobody on that team was a sheep, we were all lions,” he continued. “Those guys pushed me and made me a way better player than I was before in high school. I played sparingly but the practices and the time I did get in the game helped me tremendously.”
Tillery noted that playing with future and former Division I players in practice such as Zach Copeland (Illinois State) and Trevor Dunbar (Washington State) helped him develop that “dog” mentality that helped him to succeed his sophomore campaign at Grays Harbor, where he shone in 9 games, averaging 21.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.3 assists before a broken hand in a freak play in practice ended his season.
“Coming here to Grays Harbor it was like a perfect fit playing for Kevin Williamson who allowed me to do my thing and play freely he helped me be better point guard,” he said.
Partially because of the transfer and the abbreviated sophomore campaign, Tillery only had a limited amount of time to make an impression on four-year schools. He notes that he has a preferred walk-on offer from Boise State, and has been talking with some other schools at the Division I and Division II levels. Tillery is considering walking on but it needs to be the right fit.
“Honestly I just want to be able to play and contribute right away,” Tillery said. “With me being a junior coming in I want to make sure I’m being used right and being able to be effective and not just be a roster fill in player.”
Tillery noted that he’s scheduled to graduate with his AA degree this summer, and was named to the NWAC Winter All-Academic Team with a 3.4 cumulative GPA.