Xavier Tillman & Nick Ward | Spartans All-Access | Michigan State Men’s Basketball


– Xavier Tillman and Nick Ward, they’ve, right in the room we’re sitting, have transformed their bodies from, you know what, I used to tease
’em as Pillsbury Doughboys, to kind of Adonises. It’s not as easy, when you’re in college, to do that, you know? It’s easy to gain weight, it’s easy to put on more muscle in football and things like that, but to actually have to
cut 25, 30, 30-some pounds is not easy to do, and I think the dedication
they both showed, and I also have to give credit to our nutritionist, our strength coach, ’cause a lot of that
is done in the summers. – [Player] Y’all gotta get
all the way there, man. – The biggest summers are
your sophomore summer, which is after your freshman year, and then your junior summer. That’s when you’re gonna
make the most strides. And for Nick, I feel like it’s been
this previous summer. – [Man] Yo, Nick! – [Trainer] Let’s go. – Oh yeah, Nick!
– Five. – Big push!
– Six. Let’s go, let’s go. – [Man] Yep, oh, yeah,
there you go, there you go! – I’m doing a lot
heavier weight with ease, I want to say with ease, but more than I’ve ever done before. Like, this past summer I did 305, one time on 305, I never done that before, and my legs are stronger, and that’s all thanks to Marshall. – Good, there you go, up in there, tight! Come on, Nick, up there, tight, good! Weight negative, every rep, oh yeah. We still wanted to work
a lot on his weight, he tested the NBA draft a little bit, he went to work out with
some different teams, and a lot of times they came back and said that he needed
to be in better shape, needed to cut down his body fat and lose some of that weight. – Nick Ward has changed as
much as any guy I’ve had in many, many years. Sometimes the light bulb goes on, a lot of times between your
freshman and sophomore year, definitely between your
sophomore and junior year, but then when you go, and maybe the place you wanna be someday is telling you the same things as the place you are, I think it really benefits you. – In college, you never know what the NBA people is thinking, you know? But from hearing it from them, instead of from this
person and that person, and actually from the direct source, it helps a lot. It shows you that you’re not far off from where your dream is. We got little tweaks about your game, and you’ll be right there. – [Player] Let’s go, let’s go! – His work ethic, from the day he got back in April to now, I could ask no more of Nick Ward. I’m really proud of him. – I feel a lot better, you know? A lot smarter, and I read things better, read my post-moves a lot better, read defensive better, and, you know, double-teams. For my freshman year, I would have panicked with double-teams, I would turn the ball over a lot more, been a lot less explosive, but now, just seeing different
defenses over the years, I’ve recognized where I can score at, where I need to pass the ball at, and where I need to get better at. And that came with over time. – Hopefully now, you
know, first game jitters, trying to show off his new
body and his new things, I think he didn’t play
very well against Kansas. But since then, he’s played better and I have a lot of
confidence that Nick will have a big-time year, as long as he makes those free throws. (ball squeaking) (upbeat percussive music) – My diet was really, really, really bad senior year, and coming here my freshman year, my diet was really bad, ’cause I just didn’t know
anything about dieting, about eating salads, fruits, a lot of people think, okay, like, what kinda
diet did they have you on? Like what are you only eating? Like, no, it’s not that. Like, just think about all the bad stuff, like the chips and the snacks, and like I said, the fast food. You just limit or take away those things, and you only put in the simple good stuff. Like I eat PB&J sandwiches, sweet and salty peanut
butter granola bars, grapes, yogurt. I mean, I just eat healthier snacks. Don’t get it wrong, I can still eat a lot, but I choose, and my body wants, healthy food. – He originally came in weighing in the 270’s. Throughout last year, we cut him down to mid-250’s, 255, in that range, and we knew, for him to move well, we needed to take him down even further. For him, transitioning to playing at the four, instead of the five, we knew he was gonna have to
move even better laterally, and vertically as well, to play at the rim, and so we wanted to drop
some more of that weight. The funny thing is, it actually started happening when he got really sick in the summer. He got sick for five or six days, had the flu, that dropped him way down
and we kinda took that as, alright, you’ve been working really hard, but we’re gonna use this to our advantage. We’re gonna build you back up from here. – I’m engaged, right here, I’m engaged. – Marsh does a good job of having the same attitude every time, that we’re gonna get better
no matter how you feel, encourage somebody else, you’re gonna get through this, you’re gonna get better, you’re gonna push yourself, and at the end of the day, Marsh just helps everyone
get to where they need to be, like me with my weight. – Put a cowboy hat. (laughing) – For Xavier, he’s done a lot of that in one year, and whenever you gain a lot of weight or lose a lot of weight, you have to learn how to
play with your new body. It’s not quite as easy
as you think, you know. Hey Xavier, you can dunk that now, just ’cause you couldn’t get to before. – It feels really good to be light, or lighter, than what I was. On the court, I’m running the floor without getting tired
nearly as fast as I used to, like I used to my freshman year. I could go like, like now I’m playing 18 minutes a game, my freshman year I was playing 10, like, man, this is a lot, thinking it was a lot of minutes. Athletically, I’ve been
getting a lot of rebounds above the rim, and I couldn’t say I’d been doing that my freshman year, other than at the end of the year. So, being more athletic, being quicker, being able to move my
feet without falling, and jumping higher, I’ve seen that as well. – [Announcer] Four. Xavier Tillman!
(crowd cheering) (upbeat music)
(shoes squeaking) (crowd cheering) Xavier Tillman! – I do think they’ll play 15 minutes or more together, maybe more than that, depending on what teams we play. Nick has that low-post game, where Xavier shoots it a little
better from the perimeter. Xavier might be a bit better rebounder, just goes after the ball with two hands, Nick has quicker feet in better ways and has a lethal jump hook. – [Announcer] A hook shot
over the top of Moses Brown. – [Commentator] And we
don’t see him go to the left shoulder much, but he got right into the
Brown, the shot blockers. – He’s really patient, and sees the floor really well before he makes his post move. So, he told me that he’s
like a reaction-type player, meaning, based on what
the defense gives him, that tells him which
move that he’s gonna do. He doesn’t really think of a move before, so he’s really patient, and with the aggressive side, every time he touches it, he’s looking to put
the ball in the basket. Whether he’s on the three-point line, or whether he’s on the post. He’s gonna look to put
the ball in the basket. – [Announcer] Here comes the first three of the season for him,
he made it, Ward made it! – I love when those two guys are together because they get after it. They challenge each other on the court. Well, sometimes I see a
whole other side of it in the weight room. They’re really getting after each other. (teammates talking) – [Man] Come on. Come on, let’s go! Hey, let’s go! – You know, it just helps us
get better each and every day. First of all, you get
some better competition. You know, not enough to tear us or anything, but we go hard and we push each other in practice even though that’s when
half the team stops. – We challenge each other, so if we’re both on the
court at the same time, during the process of a game, we’re challenging each other and we’re not thinking about
the pressures from fans or the pressures if
you’re not playing well. It’s just between me and him. We’re making it a challenge between us and we’re not worried
about any outside factors, other than to get the job done. (upbeat music)
(crowd cheering) – What they both have to improve on is their free throw shoot, you know, and if they do that, and Nick’s guy looking at
12, 13 free throws a game. If he can hit 10 out of 13, that’s really somethin’. If you make six or seven out of 13, then it becomes more of a turn over, so he’s worked on it, he’s working on it. They both are. If they can improve in
their free throw shooting, like they have with their conditioning, their weight and their ability to move, we’re gonna have a lot of fun
times with those two guys. (teammates cheering) (dramatic music)

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