If he had made it to the NBA, perhaps more fans would remember the considerable accomplishments that Mark Tillmon made to Georgetown basketball in the late 1980's. An able shooter, tough defender, and consistent scorer, he remains one of the school's most underrated players of his era.
An Parade and McDonald's All-American guard from nearby Gonzaga College HS, Tillmon was the key force in the Purple Eagles' 29-3 championship season in 1986. At Georgetown, he took over from where David Wingate left off for a Hoya team enjoying a decade of dominance across the nation. Opening with 13 points in his debut, Tillmon started 25 games for the 1987 Big East champs. On a team's whose stats were dominated by Reggie Williams, the freshman finished third in scoring, earning himself a place on the Big East all-rookie team. Tillmon scored in double figures in 13 of those games, with a season high 19 points and seven rebounds in a 74-71 win over #6-ranked DePaul at Capital Centre.
Though he had averaged in double figures, Tillmon's 39 percent shooting was in need of improvement, and the 1987-88 season provided just that. Tillmon's emerging skills in the mid-range jump shot paid big dividends for the Hoyas in adjusting to life after Reggie Williams. Starting in 24 of 30 games, Tillmon shot 47 percent from the field and became just the second Hoya to post a 40 percent of better mark from three point range since it was introduced a season earlier. The leading scorer in nine games, six of these were in Big East play. Two of the biggest were a 19 point, 7 rebound effort at Syracuse, a game better known for Charles Smith's finger-roll at the buzzer, and a 35 point, 8 rebound effort in the season finale versus Seton Hall.
Tillmon lost his starting job to Jaren Jackson early in the 1988-89 season and sustained the first protracted slump of his career. Sidelined for two games with an injury, Tillmon averaged just over four points per game throughout December 1988 and early into January 1989, but rediscovered his touch within conference play. One of the top scorers coming off the bench, Tillmon averaged 9.1 points per game in Big East play, including a pair of 14 point games against Boston College and an 18 point effort over Syracuse in the regular season finale. Tillmon woiund up the year with a 16 point effort in the regional final versus Duke.
Having lost the starting job in 1989, Tillmon was determined to regain it for his senior season . Despite the presence of a pair of promising freshmen in David Edwards and Antoine Stoudamire and a pair of future NBA big men in Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo, it was Tillmon who dominated the Hoyas in 1989-90.
Tillmon was never a flashy guard, but he just got things done. The 1990 season saw him lead the Hoyas in one big game after another. He scored 27 in a win over North Carolina in the Big East-ACC Challenge series, and scored 29 more in a 33 point rout of Virginia Tech. Over a 15 day, six game stretch from December 29 through January 13, Tillmon averaged 26 points a game for a Georgetown team that won its first 14 games of the season, topped off by a 39 point effort against Providence. After a mid-season loss to Connecticut (only the second loss to the Huskies since 1981), Tillmon picked up the scoring with some notable individual performances: 26 at Villanova, 25 versus Seton hall, 20 at St. John's. He matched his career high of 39 points set earlier against Providence against the Friars once again on Feb. 13, 1990 with a 39 point effort and a school record seven three point shots. The record has been matched only once in the last 18 years, that by Darrel Owens.
With double figure efforts in 10 of his final 11 games, Tillmon finished was named a first team All-Big East selection and graduated as the school's sixth all time leading scorer. Following Georgetown, he was signed to a free agent contract with the Utah Jazz, but was waived less than three weeks later. After two years in the CBA, Tillmon ended his career in Europe, then returned to the Washington area where he is presently the CEO of a mortgage firm in Silver Spring, MD.
Mark Tillmon's years were some of the most productive in Georgetown basketball history. His teams from 1986 through 1990 were a combined 102-24, 53-5 at home. His shooting, defense, and team leadership were a significant part of a memorable run of Georgetown basketball.