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Killian Tillie reveals why he returned to Gonzaga instead of going to NBA

After a year full of injuries for the forward, he said he's motivated to make a big impact next season.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Gonzaga men's basketball forward Killian Tillie says he was never fully healthy while playing last season.

"I wasn't really 100% every time," Tillie said. "I felt better at the end, but still it was a little different."

It was different because he went from starter in the 2017-2018 season to role player off the bench last season

"I didn't have the same role on the team," Tillie said. "The team was already playing really well without me so  I just had to find something to do to help the team."

In the 2018 NCAA Tournament, Tillie suffered a right hip injury in a practice before a Sweet 16 game against Florida State.

Before the 2018-2019 season, it was announced Tillie would miss the first two months of the season due to a right ankle fracture. That required surgery.

He came back in January of that season, only to tear his plantar fascia on his right foot in February. Tillie returned by the postseason in March, but never truly found his old rhythm.

He only averaged about 6.2 points per game and 3.9 rebounds per game in the 2018-2019 season, but still decided to go through the NBA Draft process.

The forward got injured again in a workout with the Atlanta Hawks in May.

"I sprained my ankle a little bit so then I had to step down a little bit," Tillie said.

He chose to not participate in the NBA Draft combine. In May, he announced he was returning for his senior season at Gonzaga.

"I had some teams that wanted me but I think the best choice was to bet on myself another year and try to stay healthy," Tillie said. "I want to try to go higher (in the draft) next year and I'm excited to do one more year."

To improve his NBA draft stock, he's working hard to try get his body stronger.

"I've got a lot of programs, a lot of routines to get my ankles strong, my knees, my hips. I've got everything programmed, now I have to work on it," Tillie said. "I've got all summer to work on it and have already started on it so it's going to be a good one."

This upcoming season, he will likely be a starter again. With the departure of so many players from last season's roster, Tillie will be a go-to player. 

He wants to step up and be a leader.

"My goal will be to bring everyone together," Tillie said. "You know the freshmen and the transfers to make sure everyone plays the Gonzaga way and it's going to be a  good challenge."

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