Tuesday proved to be a very important day for new Oregon State head coach Wayne Tinkle, as three talented high school prospects announced their decisions to attend the Pac-12 school. Tinkle and his staff are very familiar with two of the commits, as Tres Tinkle and Stephen Thompson Jr. are the sons of Wayne and assistant Stephen Thompson Sr., respectively.
Tres, a Top 100 forward who will complete his senior year in Montana before joining his father’s program, knew that he wanted nothing more than to play for his father once Wayne was hired at Oregon State. And in a story written by Lindsay Schnell of Sports Illustrated, Tres planned out how he would go about informing his father of his decision to commit to Oregon State.
Still, Tres (pronounced “Trace”, like the Spanish word for the number three, as he is the third child of Wayne and his wife, Lisa) waited until this week to tell his dad that he, too, would become a Beaver. Back in Missoula, Mont. — where he will stay for his senior season at Hellgate High — he picked out a card with a cover that read, “Make a Wish.” Inside, Tres wrote a note to his dad, saying that if he had one wish, it would be to play for Wayne at Oregon State, “rambling on” about special milestones they could encounter together. He closed with, “I hope this is your wish, too.”
This past Tuesday, his mom delivered the card — complete with a framed 8×10 photo of Tres in a No. 3 Beavers jersey — to her husband’s office, where Wayne promptly started crying. When they talked on the phone, Tres called him “Coach.” A choked up Wayne told his youngest child, “I’ve waited so long to hear that.”
The commitments of Tres, Stephen Jr. and Derrick Bruce are important steps forward for an Oregon State program that hasn’t reached the NCAA tournament since 1990. The program’s had some talented players along the way, most recently high-scoring guard Roberto Nelson, but they haven’t been able to put it all together in the Pac-12.
There’s hope that Wayne Tinkle and his staff can change that, and the combination of his success at Montana and Oregon State’s four-member (for now) 2015 recruiting class has sparked optimism in Corvallis. The work needed to push Oregon State up the Pac-12 standings and into the NCAA tournament will be difficult, Oregon State will look to do so with two father/son tandems leading the way.