Devin Tillis’ versatility helps him become leader for Windward

Windward's Devin Tillis shoots before a game against Crossroads on Jan. 7, 2020.
(Shotgun Spratling / Los Angeles Times)

It takes watching a full game to see Devin Tillis’ true value.

The Los Angeles Windward High senior doesn’t wow anyone with any individual aspect of his game, but there’s no weakness. A 6-foot-6 wing player, Tillis has a nice-looking jumper and can handle the ball on the perimeter. He also isn’t afraid to go inside and bang bodies with his 210-pound frame. Perhaps most important is his leadership skills.

“I think my basketball ability is great. I can shoot the three. I can pass. I can handle, but besides all that, I feel like I’m a great leader,” Tillis said. “If my energy is up, then I know my teammates energy is up. If my teammates know that I got their back, they always got my back and I feel like that’s a big key to my game, getting my teammates involved and into the game.”

Tillis is the heart of a talented Wildcats team that features a pair of top 100 sophomore prospects in Kijani Wright (No. 5 in the 2022 class, per the 247Sports composite rankings) and Dylan Andrews (No. 54). Andrews controls the action on the court as the point guard but Tillis is the team’s catalyst.


“That’s my guy,” Andrews said. “As he goes, we go.”

Jahmai Mashack, a senior guard at Rancho Cucamonga Etiwanda, has developed into one of the best defenders in the Southland.

Tillis is a mentor and a vocal leader. He has taken it upon himself to help prepare his younger teammates for elevated competition. He often is in their ear during any break in the action — directing, encouraging, explaining.

“I got to get those guys ready for that next level,” Tillis said. “I’m trying to push those guys to be the best that they can be on and off the court and strive for that greater goal, which is to beat the Sierra Canyons, to get to the CIF, win a ring, all that. I feel like I’m a big part of their life, and they’re a big part of my life. So it works both ways.”

Position-less is perfect fit

Tillis can play any position for Windward. His versatility attracted the attention of Nevada Las Vegas and the Runnin’ Rebels offered him a scholarship last week. Tillis took an official visit over the weekend and was sold on how he could fit in with UNLV first-year head coach T.J. Otzelberger.

“Coach T.J. really talks about his position-less basketball,” Tillis said. “He sees me as one of those guys who can play one through four and really get up and down and really like be a leader in the system with all the young guys and just help push for that bigger goal, which is championships. That’s what I love the most.”

Rick Herrington has coached for 42 years, mostly as an assistant coach

Tillis committed to UNLV on Monday after returning from the trip. He knows he’ll have to improve his lateral quickness and conditioning before he is ready to contribute consistently at the collegiate level. That will be his offseason focus, but he is excited about the opportunity with the Rebels.

“They’re pushing for the future and they’re telling me I’m going to be a big part of that,” he said. “I just can’t wait to see what goes forward with them.”

Early offers

Wright and Andrews have already caught the eye of college scouts. Both are closing in on double-digit scholarship opportunities, including each having multiple Pac-12 offers.

“Those are schools I was watching growing up,” Andrews said of offers from Arizona, Stanford and UCLA. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is somewhere where I want to be, on this stage.’ “

Getting an offer from the Bruins was “a shock” to Andrews. “It was just God. It’s a blessing, basically,” he said.

Both sophomores are grateful for the early offers but said they are a reminder to keep working hard and grinding in the gym.