Utah's Donnie Tillman taking 'leave of absence' from basketball to be with family

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah men’s basketball forward Donnie Tillman is taking a leave of absence from the program for “personal reasons,” according to university officials.

Tillman, a junior from Detroit, will not be with the team for the upcoming 2019-20 basketball season as he moves to be closer to his mother, Donna, as she struggles with ongoing health issues.

“It is with a heavy heart that I share with Utah fans that I will not be returning to the Utes this fall,” Tillman said in a prepared statement. “I have always respected and admired Utah’s commitment to academics, athletics and family. The Ute fans have always shown me unwavering support, as well.

“I respect both the university and the fans more now for understanding my wanting to be with my mother at this time, as her ongoing health issues continue. Coach (Larry) Krystkowiak believes in putting family first and I cannot thank him enough for allowing me to follow in his lead.”

Krystkowiak offered his support of Tillman and said it was “an admirable decision to be near his mother as she battles health issues.”

Following the 2018-19 season, Tillman was named the Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year after averaging 10.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. He later announced a decision to explore a potential NBA draft bid but later returned to the university after getting feedback from NBA organizations.

Tillman played in 59 games in his two seasons with the program, including 19 starts for the Utes. He averaged 9.3 points and 5.0 rebounds in his career.

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Josh is the Sports Director for KSL.com and beat writer covering University of Utah athletics — primarily football, men’s and women's basketball and gymnastics. He is also an Associated Press Top 25 voter for college football.


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