April 25, 2007
HUNTINGTON - Marshall head men's basketball coach Donnie Jones has announced the hiring of Darren Tillis to his basketball staff. Tillis joins Shawn Finney and Brett Nelson as assistants on the Thundering Herd staff after spending four seasons as an assistant at Tennessee State.
"Darren brings great experience and will work with our post players," said Jones. "He worked in the NBA, and can provide that experience to our guys. He also has recruiting ties throughout the south after recruiting in the ACC at Clemson, and I believe that will be a valuable asset in our recruiting efforts."
Tillis, a 1982 NBA first-round draft pick for the Boston Celtics, played two years in the NBA with the Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Golden State Warriors, before embarking on a professional career in Europe from 1984-1990. Tillis played in the Italian League from 1984-88, where he won two championships and averaged 20.0 points and 10 rebounds in those championship years, and also played in the Spanish League in 1989-90.
Tillis began his coaching career in Europe as head coach of Ockelbo Basket of the Swedish League from 1993-95. He began his collegiate coaching career a year later at SMU, where he worked for John Shumate for a season in 1995-96. He also finished his undergraduate degree while living in Dallas at Paul Quinn College, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in History in May of 1996.
Tillis played collegiately at Cleveland State from 1978-82, serving as a four-year starter for a program that averaged almost 18 wins a season. As a senior with the Vikings, Tillis was named a Sporting News Honorable Mention All-American, thanks in part to a 17.3 scoring average and 12.8 rebound average in 1981-82. He is still considered one of the greatest players in Cleveland State history, and ranks first in school history in career blocked shots (171), second in rebounds (1,045) and fourth in scoring (1,423).
After the outstanding senior season, Tillis was the 21st selection in the NBA draft by the Boston Celtics. At midseason, he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In 1983-84 he was traded to the Golden State Warriors.
Tillis was recruited to Cleveland State by then-assistant coach Larry Schyatt, who worked together with Marshall head coach Donnie Jones on Billy Donovan's Florida staff from 2004-07, and both would build on their relationship as time moved on. Fifteen years after Tillis and Schyatt were at Cleveland State, both were reunited as coaches in 1997 when Schyatt hired Tillis as an assistant when Schyatt became the head coach at Wyoming. The Cowboys went 19-9 in their lone year in Laramie and secured a berth in the NIT in 1998. When Schyatt left for Clemson in the spring of 1998 to be the head coach, he brought Tillis along with him. Tillis worked at Clemson with Schyatt from 1998-2003.
For the last four seasons, Tillis has served as an assistant coach with Ohio Valley Conference member Tennessee State.
"I'm very excited about being here," said Tillis. "I've known Coach Jones for a while, and he has a good vision of what he wants to do here. He's very passionate and energetic about that vision, and I see the future being very bright here at Marshall."