Tres Tinkle grew up in an environment with a blue-collar mentality, where status and rewards were earned.
The Oregon State junior forward has been motivated in recent years by doubters who believed he wouldn’t succeed in major college basketball, and a desire to play in the NBA.
He’s also had to follow in the footsteps of two older sisters who stood out on the basketball court and in the classroom.
He never wanted to be known as the weakest child in the family.
“If you want something you have to work for it, and I’ve always been someone intrigued by wanting things,” Tinkle said. "The only way you get things is by putting in extra effort. They aren’t going to be given to you.”
Tinkle, son of OSU head coach Wayne Tinkle, had a breakthrough season last winter, a year after playing just six games due to a broken wrist. He led the Beavers in points, rebounds and assists on his way to all-Pac-12 honors.
But he wanted more.
Since the wrist injury, the 6-foot-8, 225-pounder from Missoula, Montana, has spent time training with, and being mentored by, Luke Jackson, the former University of Oregon All-American from Creswell who played professionally in the NBA and NBDL.
The two talked this past offseason about developing a program to help Tinkle take his game to the next level. Jackson had been down that road, having spent countless hours working out before his own senior year of college trying to make a big jump.
What came of the conversation was a 30-day challenge Jackson created for Tinkle centered around shooting. The baseline was making — not attempting — 450 college 3-pointers, 50 NBA 3-pointers and 200 mid-range shots a day, in addition to free throws, ball-handling drills, jump-roping, pushups and situps, and watching every Oregon State game from last season.
Tinkle knew it would be difficult, but also that it would help him build confidence and have a competitive advantage knowing that no one in the country was outworking him over the summer.
“He’s just hungry to get better and he really wants to win,” Jackson said. “I think he wants to make his dad proud and I think he wants to be remembered and have a legacy at Oregon State.”
Tinkle set up the challenge so that it would end on Aug. 17, the day before he was to leave on a family vacation in Mexico.
It took up most of his day for the entire month.
On days when the men’s basketball program hosted youth camps, the schedule included working out from 5-7 in the morning, weights at 7:30, camp from 9 to 2, a short workout from 3-4 and another from 6-8.
“A lot of early mornings and a lot of late nights, then you’ve got to mix in team stuff with weights, community service, school, all kind of stuff,” Tinkle said. “It was hard to keep up with, but I knew once I completed it, it was going to benefit me.”
Tinkle spent a few of those days with Jackson in Eugene but many more at the OSU Basketball Center, with Tyler Copp, the Beavers’ new video coordinator who played basketball at St. Martin’s.
“He’d wake up every single morning before me. I owe him a lot. I knew it was tough,” Tinkle said.
As a college athlete, Tinkle has worked out and got up as many shots as his body would let him. It’s led several times to his body wearing down and being unable to recover right away.
Wayne Tinkle has done his best to remind him to not overdo it and take time off. Tres Tinkle said he gets restless and feels the urge to get back to court when he’s away from it.
The coach was wary of the possible physical results of the strenuous challenge. But he’s seen a change in his son.
“The rest and recuperation part, which we’ve been preaching for years, he’s starting to understand it’s really important,” Wayne Tinkle said, adding that Tres takes “more ice baths than anyone I’ve ever known” and is cutting back on the constant pounding.
“You want your guys that way. You want them where you have to kick them out of the gym instead of having to convince them to get in the gym.”
Tres Tinkle said he knows he must take care of his body, and he’s spent downtime in the past year stretching and doing yoga, options he never explored in the past.
Tinkle got to know Jackson after Oregon State played Jackson’s Northwest Christian University squad early in the 2015-16 season.
He saw Jackson as a great resource for helping him become a better player.
Jackson spent the past five seasons as the head coach at Northwest Christian, an NAIA school in Eugene where he won 101 games and was named conference coach of the year twice. He stepped away from the program to spend more time at home and help his wife raise their three children, the youngest is 6 months.
Jackson said he saw a lot of himself in Tinkle. Both are left-handers, roughly the same size and with a strong determination to improve. He says that connection was a big factor in working with Tinkle.
“It kind of just took me back to when I was playing and I was that hungry. He’s on the right path and I’m really pulling for him,” Jackson said. “I look at Tres and I just see a guy that’s got some incredible opportunities ahead of him.”
Tinkle says the biggest reason for taking on the challenge was a push to win more games. The Beavers went 16-16 last season, with 13 losses by single digits. Seven of those defeats came by five points or fewer.
Tinkle wants to do everything he can to make Oregon State a winner.
“If I allow myself to get better, that’s going to put our team in a better chance,” he said. “A lot of it was to allow my teammates to see how much I was doing and spark my engine, too, to do more. I think a lot of them got in the gym because of that. They saw me an hour before anyone else with a full-on sweat. After practice, then again at night.”
OSU senior guard Stevie Thompson, considered one of the team’s hardest workers who spends countless hours on his own game, said he and others took notice.
Another focus of Tinkle tackling the challenge was addressing his 3-point shooting percentage.
He shot 36.3 percent as a freshman, 16.0 in six games in 2016-17 before sitting out and 32.7. Jackson says Tinkle has all the intangibles and is athletic enough to play in the NBA.
“But he’s got to be a consistent 3-point shooter, and that’s where I think the shooting challenge he did over the summer is going to pay dividends,” Jackson said, adding that Tinkle’s “ticket” to the next level is being able to shoot 40 percent at a high volume from long range. Jackson believes Tinkle can get there.
A chance at professional basketball may be in the offing in the future, but Tinkle has his head down and his eyes on what’s directly in front of him.
He’s never sought feedback from NBA teams on his skills and potential for making it. He has his father, a longtime college coach, and his many connections for all the information he needs.
“Whatever he says is what I take and what I work on,” the younger Tinkle said.
A future in the NBA isn’t a concern, as Oregon State gets ready to open its regular season Tuesday at home against UC Riverside. He says the best thing his dad has done for him is telling him to focus one year at a time and that the rest will take care of itself.
“Right now, my biggest focus is putting the team in position to win games,” he said. “The extra stuff is not really in my head because I know the most important thing is winning.”