Breaking News
More () »

Gonzaga's Tillie uses volleyball skills on the basketball court

Killian Tillie may have chosen basketball, but his background playing a different sport shows whenever he steps on the floor: volleyball.

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Some of the greatest athletes of all time have dabbled in a variety of sports.

Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson split time in the NFL and MLB. Even the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordon, tried his hand on the diamond. There are more recent examples like former minor league baseball player, Russell Wilson, and college basketball players turned Pro Bowl tight ends like Jimmy Graham.

One of Gonzaga's best players very easily could have excelled on a different court. Killian Tillie may have chosen basketball, but his background playing a different sport shows whenever he steps on the floor: volleyball.

“Yeah it was more of a volleyball in my hands when I was growing up,” Tillie explained.

Tillie's parents are volleyball royalty. His mom, Caroline, captained the Dutch national team. His dad, Laurent, played for France twice in the Olympics and coaches the French national team.

“I was just raised up in the gym,” he said.

Just like his two brothers, Kim, 29, and Kevin, 27. Both were collegiate athletes in the states. Kevin, is a two time All-American and two-time national champion volleyball player at UC Irvine. Kim, whose basketball journey paved the way for Killian's, played forward for the University of Utah.

“It made me want to play college basketball too,” Tillie said.

Tillie could have emulated either brother, with volleyball a promising option as well.

“I feel like I could have been pretty good. I wanted to play both sports at a high level but it's hard to do so I had to choose,” he said.

But early in his teenage years, Killian picked hoops.

“I feel like my Dad wanted me to play basketball. They support me whatever I do so that's cool for me,” he explained.

With their support, and some strong genes, Killian has begun to make a name for himself.

“I feel like it's cool and it's helpful to have a family like that, that knows sports, that are athletic and tall, and yeah they are good at sports. So, I think it's pretty helpful for me,” he said.

Now in his sophomore year, Tillie has blossomed for the Zags. He is third on the team in scoring, second in rebounds and first in blocked shots. The benefit of his volleyball bloodline is easy to see.

“Jumping ability, jumping quickly and just tip in around the basket, my touch around the basket,” he said.

Whether in the game or after the whistle, Tillie likes tapping into his roots when he gets a chance.

“I think it's fun to giving a little shout out to my volleyball family,” he said.

The 2016 summer Olympic were big for the Tillie family. Laurent coached Kevin and the rest of the men's volleyball team. Meanwhile, Kim was on France’s basketball team. Killian has a shot at being the fourth Olympian in the family in 2020, by joining Kim on the French hoops squad.