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Michigan State’s Cassius Winston and Xavier Tillman set to participate in NBA Combine

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NCAA Basketball: Binghamton at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

In not the most shocking of news, Michigan State Spartans basketball players Cassius Winston and Xavier Tillman have been invited to the NBA Combine and will participate.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium released the list of 60 participants via Twitter on Sunday night:

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Combine is going to look very different than what it would in a normal year. The event has been reformatted to take place in various phases, beginning today, Sept. 28, and running through mid-November. It will be conducted both in NBA team markets and virtually.

Per NBA.com’s press release about the Combine, here is what to expect in terms of the event’s operations:

NBA Draft Combine 2020 will give players the opportunity to participate in league and team interviews, both conducted via videoconference from Sept. 28 through Oct. 16. Players will also take part in an individual on-court program consisting of strength and agility testing, anthropometric measurements, shooting drills and a “Pro Day” video, all conducted in October at the NBA team facility nearest to a player’s home or interim residence. Medical testing and examinations will be performed by NBA-affiliated physicians in the same market.”

The NBA Draft date itself has been pushed back several times, and will now take place on Wednesday, Nov. 18. This will be the first time since 1975 that the Draft is not held in the month of June.

Both Winston and Tillman are considered fringe first-round or second-round picks. While the 2020 Combine format presents unique challenges, both players should use the opportunity to cement their status as draftable players and look to increase their stock and move into the first round.

After a spectacular four-year Spartan career in which he left as not only Michigan State’s all-time leader in assists, but the entire Big Ten Conference’s all-time leader in assists, Winston moves on after graduation. Meanwhile, Tillman declared for the NBA Draft after his junior season, and after flirting with the idea of returning to East Lansing, made the decision that was best for himself and his family, ultimately decided to remain in the Draft. Tillman also graduated from MSU, doing so in just three years.

Winston averaged 14.2 points, 6.4 assists and 2.7 rebounds per contest through 139 career games (with 109 starts) at Michigan State. Winston shot 46 percent from the floor, 43 percent from three-point range and 84.5 percent from the free throw line during that span. During both his junior and senior seasons, Winston averaged at least 18.6 points and 5.9 assists per game, including 18.8 points per game and 7.5 assists per game during the 2018-2019 campaign.

Winston was a two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection (2019 and 2020), as well as a third-team member in 2018. He was also a two-time consensus second-team All-American selection and was named to the second-team All-Big Ten decade team this summer.

In three years with the Spartans, Tillman averaged 8.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.5 blocks per game, while shooting 58 percent overall and about 70 percent from the free throw line. As a junior in 2019-2020, Tillman averaged 13.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, 1.2 steals and three assists per game, on his way to Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors. Tillman was also named second-team All-Big Ten and second-team academic All-American last season. He won Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year honors in 2019.