New Jersey is probably not a destination that anyone pictured when Donnie Tillman announced he would take a “leave of absence” from Utah's basketball program, but that's where he's spending this weekend in search of another school as his mysterious offseason continues.
Via Twitter, Tillman confirmed that he's visiting Rutgers University, a Big Ten program.
Former Ute teammate Sedrick Barefield, who completed his college career in March, will play for the Oklahoma City Thunder’s summer league after going undrafted Thursday, Utah’s basketball program announced.
The next question regarding Tillman is where a New Jersey school fits into his (and Utah’s) narrative of his leave of absence for the sake of his mother’s health issues, as he said June 7 in a school news release. Donna Holmes moved to Las Vegas with her youngest son during Tillman’s high school years; the family’s home base is Detroit.
Tillman, who has two seasons of eligibility remaining, entered the NCAA transfer portal soon after his announcement. By establishing that he moved to another school in order to be closer to his mother, Tillman could receive a hardship waiver from NCAA, enabling him to play in 2019-20. Otherwise, he would have to sit out one season as a transfer.
Tillman went through the NBA evaluation process after a sophomore season when he averaged 10.5 points and was named the Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year. He worked out for the Jazz on May 24 and, five days later, Utah announced that Tillman was withdrawing from the draft in advance of the deadline for retaining college eligibility and returning to school.
Tillman has removed Utah references from his Twitter bio; he retweeted a report Thursday that said he was on the Rutgers campus.
The only previous clue about his dissatisfaction with Utah came in a May 15 tweet: “Surround yourself with people who have the same ambitions and goals as you.”
Utah previously lost center Jayce Johnson to Marquette of the Big East as a graduate transfer and lists eight freshmen and three sophomores among 12 scholarship players.
Barefield, who averaged 16.8 points as a senior and made the All-Pac-12 first team, reportedly worked out for Detroit, Orlando and the Los Angeles Clippers in advance of the draft.