College Sports

Tilmon survived a bad decision. Now let him learn from it.

Jeremiah Tilmon, no. 23, goes up for a dunk in a game against Belleville West last December. Tilmon will be attending the University of Missouri in the fall.
Jeremiah Tilmon, no. 23, goes up for a dunk in a game against Belleville West last December. Tilmon will be attending the University of Missouri in the fall. BND File

My school psychologist wife confirms what parents have long suspected of their teenage children — that they have a hole in their heads.


Right above the thalamus but just below the cortex, there’s supposed to be a bundle of nerve fibers called the corpus callosum that joins the rational left side of the brain with the more impulsive right side.

Until you’re about 25 years old, though, that bundle isn’t all there, which is why teenagers do knuckleheaded things such as getting pulled over by police with beer in the car.

That’s what 18-year-old Jeremiah Tilmon did. He’s the 6-foot-11 basketball player from East St. Louis whose crazy shot-blocking skills made him a four-star recruit that drew coaches from Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, Kentucky and others to his front door.

He had arrived on the campus of the University of Missouri for off-season practice with the Tigers on June 3 and took less than two weeks to find trouble. Tilmon was pulled over at 1:42 a.m. Friday for not picking a lane, but police soon discovered that his car smelled like booze.

2020 Todd Eschmann
Todd Eschman - BND Sports Editor

Nothing was said about the extent of inebriation, but he was arrested and charged with underage possession of alcohol, a Class D misdemeanor for a first offense.

Tilmon, apparently, is still waiting for that hole in his adolescent head to fill in.

In the meantime, you wonder what excuse society’s trolls can offer up for their all-too-common brand of judgmental ignorance. Why do they need to revel in the human failures of others, let alone a teeager simply because he has earned some notoriety for himself.

“Another entitled athlete,” lamented one social media commenter.

“Well, that didn’t take long. LOL!” another said.

Forgive me if I don’t LOL.

Oscar Tavares made a similarly poor decision in October 2014 and ended up running his Camaro off the road and into a tree, killing both himself and his girlfriend. I don’t find that funny at all, nor do I see how this “entitled athlete” somehow escaped the consequence of his actions.

Still, it’s not time to write off Tilmon as a problem child.

In a statement, Tigers’ first-year coach Cuonzo Martin, also of East St. Louis, said the university is aware of the situation and that it will be handled internally.

Martin’s message to Tilmon should begin by making him acknowledge all that he left to jeopardy by taking alcohol into his car. If not his life or that of someone else, he at the very least gambled the free education his athletic gifts have afforded him.

“Don’t blow it, son,” Martin should say.

Next, he should tell Tilmon to tune out the social media trolls, who have made and survived their own mistakes, yet somehow find the temerity to judge.

High school athletes are put under tremendous pressure when recruiting time rolls around, especially the likes of Tilmon, who has been rated as high as No. 23 nationally. That’s no excuse for poor choices, of course, but Tilmon comported himself throughout the process with enough maturity to warrant some benefit of the doubt.

And so does that aforementioned hole in his head.

He’s 18. He goofed up royally. Now let him learn from it.

BND Sports Editor Todd Eschman: 618-239-2540, @tceschman