Ever since Wayne Tinkle left Montana to take over as head coach of the Oregon State men’s basketball team, Montana prep basketball fans have wondered where Tinkle’s son, senior-to-be Tres, would finish up his high school career.
Will Tres Tinkle, the 6-foot-7, 210-pound swingman, go with his parents to Corvallis, Ore., or will he stay in Missoula to try to win another State AA championship with his Hellgate teammates? Even Tinkle isn’t sure yet.
“As of right now, my choice would be I want to stay at Hellgate,” the 18-year-old said last week. “My dad wants it to be my decision. My mom is kind of in the same boat where she wants it to be my decision, but she wants me to go with them. I’m going to spend a couple weeks (in Corvallis) this summer and try to get more familiar with it.”
Tinkle’s decision will have a big impact on next winter’s prep basketball season, but, for now, he’s busy with summer camps and AAU tournaments. Tinkle plays on an AAU team called Anthony Davis Select with fellow Montana standouts Jared Samuelson of Billings West and Kendal Manuel of Billings Skyview.
The team, which is also made up of players from Idaho, recently placed third at a tournament in Portland.
“I expect big things out of this squad,” Samuelson said, noting the team has tournaments in Seattle, Anaheim and Las Vegas scheduled for the summer. “We’ve done pretty well for a team that’s been playing together for one, two months. I’m pretty happy with how we’re doing, and I expect some good things coming out of it.”
Area Codes Basketball, a national scouting and recruiting service, named Tinkle the third-best player at April’s Pangos Spring Spectacular in Las Vegas, which featured teams and players from the western United States. Samuelson was ranked 11th.
The next AAU tournament for Athony Davis Select isn’t until early July. Until then, Tinkle will be occupied with camps.
He was invited to the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) Top 100 Camp in Virginia and the Kevin Durant Nike Skills Academy in Washington, D.C. ESPN recently ranked Tinkle as the No. 46 prospect in the 2015 recruiting class.
“I think I’m becoming a lot better with my right hand, dribbling, finishing,” Tinkle said, adding he still wants to get stronger to finish through contact. “I think I’ve become a lot more athletic, playing above the rim is a lot easier now. My shooting and post game have been good, too. And now I’m getting invited to these camps. I think they’re finally realizing my capabilities.”
When his dad took the Oregon State job, the speculation was that Tinkle would automatically land with the Beavers. While that’s definitely still a possibility, Tinkle said he’s still going to go through the recruiting process. He already has scholarship offers from Boston College, Southern California and Utah.
Tinkle’s list of interested schools also includes: Arizona State, Boise State, California, Colorado, Gonzaga, Harvard, Montana, Oregon State, Rice and Stanford, as well as Creighton, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt and Xavier, which have only recently expressed their interest.
While Tinkle’s recruitment started to heat up last summer, Samuelson and Manuel are hoping to make their marks this summer. Both athletes hold offers from Montana State Billings, but are drawing interest from Division I programs.
“This is pretty much what it all comes down to if we want to go play Division I and if we want to make our dreams come true,” Manuel said of the summer circuit. “We just have to keep working and make the most of our opportunity, because it’s not something every kid gets to do. If we keep doing what we’re doing right now, I think good things will be coming our ways.”
Manuel, a 6-3 guard, said he’s received interest from Division I programs at Army, Boise State, Montana and Oregon State, as well as Division II schools Alaska Anchorage, Mary (N.D.), Northwest Nazarene (Idaho) and Willamette (Ore.).
Samuelson, a 6-7 forward, said he’s received phone calls and text messages from Boise State, Denver, Idaho, Mary, Montana, Montana State and Wyoming.
“I kind of want to know (where I’m playing in college) before basketball this next year,” Samuelson said. “I want to win a state title like everyone else does. I would rather just be able to focus on that my senior year of high school.”