Grand Rapids to the big dance: Xavier Tillman and Marcus Bingham

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Xavier Tillman and Marcus Bingham Jr. are two of the best players to come out of Grand Rapids in a while, and now they're together at Michigan State experiencing the big stage of the NCAA tournament.

As the team practiced Wednesday in preparation for the first round of the NCAA tournament against Bradley, Tillman recalled some of their memories playing against each other in high school.

"I played against him my junior year," Tillman said. "That was the first time. I was a big name and he was blocking my shots. I was like, Who is this, who is this guy that's blocking my shots? Then he hit a jumper on me, and I was like, Okay this guy is good."

From Grand Rapids to East Lansing, the freshman Bingham and sophomore Tillman are now experiencing big-time college basketball together.

"He's a real good guy," Bingham said. "He's someone I can call on. We've built a better relationship since I've been here. He's a real cool guy, and off the court, he's the best."

Tillman has really turned a corner in his sophomore year at MSU, and he says Bingham can do the same thing next season.

"He can be phenomenal just because he has guard skills and a guard game" Tillman said.  "He can shoot from deep, he can put it on the floor and pass really well, but he's just not big, so this summer if he really dedicates himself to the weight room he can be one of our best players."

Even though Bingham isn't getting big-time minutes, he's certainly learning from guys like Tillman.

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