Perhaps the biggest compliment that can be paid to the new California basketball coaching staff, is that they've been able to come into the recruiting game with a 2015 prospect who has familial connections to the previous staff, and hit the ground running. The Bears have not only hit the ground running with Missoula (Mont.) Hellgate three-star forward Tres Tinkle, but they've made significant progress.
"Yeah, it was weird at first, because I'd talked to all those guys, and they were cool with me, but I think things happen for a reason," said Tinkle, who's father – newly-named Oregon State head coach Wayne Tinkle -- played for Mike Montgomery at Montana. "I was kind of bummed because I thought Cal was going to stop talking to me because they got a bunch of new coaches, but as soon as I got that call from Yanni Hufnagel, it was big for us. He's a guy you can talk to, and it kindled a new friendship. He was making sparks right away."
The elder Tinkle played for the Grizzlies from 1984-1989, with his first three seasons under Montgomery.
"My dad played for Monty when Monty coached at Montana, so they're pretty close friends," Tres said. "They still talk from time to time, and whenever he's in town, they hang out and get something to eat. They have a pretty good relationship. My dad wasn't with him long, but he recruited my dad, so they've had a friendship for a while."
Within only a few weeks of settling in, the new Cal staff started making inroads with Tres, thanks to Hufnagel and new head coach Cuonzo Martin. Three weeks ago, the two parties began speaking.
"Yanni, he called me, I want to say, three weeks ago, and I've been talking to him and Cuonzo and all of them, so the new staff started up about three weeks ago," Tres said. "I like them a lot. They're a lot of fun to talk to, and they have great personalities. They're energetic. They're people you can talk to for a long time on the phone, which is good. They like to build a relationship with you, not as a player, as more of a friend than just trying to get you as a player, which is nice."
The 6-foot-7, three-star power forward already has offers from USC, Utah and Boston College, and is more than familiar with the Pac-12.
"I'm pretty familiar. My sister went to Stanford, so I watched those teams for the four years that she was there, so I know what's going on, on that campus, and the other campuses where she's played," Tres said. "When I was younger, I watched Washington, the Arizonas, Cal, Stanford, USC, UCLA and all those schools – those high-caliber teams – so they're teams I've watched for a long time, but when my sister went there, I started paying a lot more attention to the schools and the academic aspects of things, and also the basketball programs."
Wayne has kept at arm's length with his son's recruitment, preferring to offer support and advice, rather than come on strong as an in-house recruiter.
"He'd love to have me play for him, and it would be something special, but whenever I have questions, he answers them, straight up, and he supports me, no matter what my decision is," Tres said. "He's trying to act more like the father figure, instead of the coach trying to get his son to play for him. It's been really helpful having him, because he can answer all the questions because he is a college coach, and he wants what's best for me."
The Bears are hoping that what's best for the younger Tinkle is Berkeley, and though an offer hasn't been issued yet, it could come very soon.
"They've mentioned it, but I think not until after they watch me play this summer," Tres said. "They'd heard about me, and they said that I'm the kind of guy they want to go hard after, for 2015, so they haven't seen me play yet, but I think, after they watch me play, hopefully, that'll make up their mind."
What does Cal like most about Tinkle?
"I think the character I have, and being a tough, gritty player, and they really like my versatility, being able to score on offense in all kinds of different ways," he said. "They also like my athleticism and length for the defensive end."
While Tres said he certainly had an affinity for the old staff, the new bunch certainly has his attention.
"I really liked the old staff, and the new staff, they're great people," he said. "I'd love to take a visit whenever they want me to."
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