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Donnie Tillman will withdraw from NBA draft, return to play for Runnin' Utes

Utah Utes forward Donnie Tillman (3) dunks the ball against the Washington State Cougars at the end of the second half to win the game at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019.
Utah's Donnie Tillman (3) dunks against Washington State during a Pac-12 basketball at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019.
Silas Walker, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — It took until just less than five hours before the deadline for word to get out, but Utah Runnin' Utes forward Donnie Tillman will return to school.

College basketball reporter Jeff Goodman tweeted Wednesday afternoon that Tillman has made the decision to play for the Utes this fall, his junior season, after he had declared for next month's NBA draft, and the school formally announced it a short time later.

Early entry candidates have until 10 p.m. MT Wednesday to remove their names from draft consideration and maintain collegiate eligibility.

Listed at 6-foot-7 and 225 pounds, Tillman won the Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year Award after a sophomore campaign in which he averaged 10.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. He started 14 of 31 contests for Utah as it went 17-14 overall and 11-7 in conference play, which was good enough for third place.

As part of the predraft process, Tillman worked out for the Utah Jazz last week. After the workout, Jazz vice president of player personnel Walt Perrin said of Tillman, “What I saw out there was a player that’s got a nice, strong body — knows how to use it going to the basket. He needs to probably learn how to finish a little bit better. His shot was a little bit inconsistent. He needs to work on that to go further in his profession, but he showed a lot of energy.”

Tillman will go back to a Utes team that loses its scoring an assists leader from last season, Sedrick Barefield, and its rebounds and blocks leader, Jayce Johnson. Barefield graduated, while Johnson transferred to Marquette after declaring for the draft like Tillman.