As the Beavers enter the post-GP2 era, Tres Tinkle has filled the veteran leadership role that The Mitt left behind in only his second year on the team. Tres, son of head coach and the refrigerator wearing a suit on the sideline, Wayne, is exactly the player that OSU was missing during the anticlimactic loss to VCU in the national tournament last March. Despite spending the entire summer rehabbing a broken foot, the Pac-12 All-Freshman Honorable Mention will serve as co-captain alongside fellow sophomore, Drew Eubanks.
Last season, after working his way into the starting lineup, the Beavers won 6 of 11 in their toughest stretch of competition prior to Tres’s injury before the loss at USC. During his freshman season, Tres had double-digit scoring performances in 18 games, among which were four 20 point outings. Of paramount, his scoring bursts were against the Beav’s most difficult opponents. Tres dropped 20 on Kansas on the road, which included 5 of 7 from beyond the arc.
He also splashed both 19 and a career-high 23 against the Ducks, who made it to last year’s elite 8. His ability to stretch the defense by slashing, hitting threes, and pulling up from mid-range make his polymorphous-style of scoring a nightmare to guard. And when his shot wasn’t there, Tres did something that almost no freshman does: he didn’t shoot. He took smart shots, finishing most games above .500 from the floor, all while setting up his teammates for open looks by drawing out extra defenders.
In addition to Tinkle’s clutch scoring, his 146 rebounds tied him for 4th best ever by an Oregon State freshman. As we watched time and again, the common denominator in almost every Beaver loss last year was an overwhelming disparity on the boards. The Beavs finished last in the conference in rebounding margin, and Tres’s 5.4 rebounds per game, demonstrate his knack for finding his way to the ball after missed shots. Controlling time of possession and limiting opponent’s second-chance opportunities are a must if the Beaver’s want to go dancing again this year.
Though clichés like “poised” and “intangible” constantly get thrown around when a coach’s son is successful, Tinkle does possess a certain set of skills that don’t stand out on a stat sheet. Even when he isn’t hitting shots, Tres is always doing something. He’s moving, he’s pressuring, he’s setting screens, he’s blocking shots, he’s getting steals. Tinkle was referred to as a “Jack of All Trades” type player at the Lebron James Skills Academy. He has a Danny Green-esque style of play that makes the game flow smoothly for the rest of his teammmates. There isn’t an advanced metric for it, but the team just looks better when he’s on the floor. Things are spaced out and the defense is in the right place at the right time. Last season after GP2, he led the team in scoring and rebounding and handsomeness in his first year. Some guys have just got it, whatever ‘it’ is.
The Beavers return 7 players from the 2015 season, mostly role players, and acquired three JUCO transfers over the summer. The burden of replacing Gary Payton II’s contributions on the stat sheet will largely fall on Tres Tinkle and fellow sophomores Stephen Thompson Jr. and Drew Eubanks. The excitement in watching such a young squad with talents like Tinkle, Thompson and Eubanks is that the team you see in November will look completely different in March. Especially given the Beavs’ relatively guard-heavy roster, Tinkle’s size and ability to play both the frontcourt and the backcourt will play a big role in how the team’s offense develops throughout the season. Expect multiple Tres-to-Stephen threes. Expect multiple Thompson Jr. assists to come from Tinkle spreading the floor by drawing out defenders and slashing to the basket.
As long as Tres is able to stay healthy and fully rebound (basketball pun) from his season-ending foot injury, the Beavers could end up rolling through the relatively wide-open Pac-12 with a full head of steam into March.
Tinkle likely will emerge in 2016 as OSU’s all around best player. He can score in a variety of ways and is a natural leader.
Okay well obviously his broken foot is kind of a pretty huge weakness. The big question will be how his rehab over the summer paid off: is Tinkle still able to be as explosive as he was last year? Hopefully the injury isn’t a sign of an issue with durability. Also to be seen is Tinkle’s ability to step into the role of an elite defensive player. A solid defender last year, Tres may be asked to step up at times given the lack of a lockdown guy in Payton II’s absence.