(Editor's note: While we're faced with a sports-less world during the coronavirus pandemic, MTN Sports is going to re-publish the original stories from the #MTTop50, which launched in 2016 to profile some of the great boys basketball players in Montana history. The first six weeks of the series separated players by decade, beginning with athletes from 2010-present that first week. The sixth week, athletes from the 1960s, ‘50s and earlier were profiled. The weeks between featured five players each from the 2000s, 1990s, 1980s and 1970s. Players like Tres Tinkle, who graduated from Missoula Hellgate in 2015 and is currently playing at Oregon State, and Wayne Estes, who starred at Anaconda and Utah State in the 1960s, were not featured in their respective decades. Those players will be profiled in the top 20, regardless of era, which MTN Sports began with Reece Gliko. You can find a full rundown of the 30 players featured the first six weeks by clicking here. Our intention is not to revise history, so we're not going to change the order in which the players were featured. However, some articles will include updates to reflect the latest developments in a player's career. This story was originally published on Aug. 11, 2016.)
Top 20 rankings: No. 20 – Reece Gliko; No. 19 – Brent Wilson; No. 18 – Mike Chavez; No. 17 – Shawn Samuelson; No. 16 – JR Camel; No. 15 – Tom Storm; No. 14 – Daren and Kevin Engellant; No. 13 – Bill Pilgeram; No. 12 – Kral and Shann Ferch; No. 11 – Don Wetzel Sr.; No. 10 – Jonathan Takes Enemy. No. 9 – Robin Selvig; No. 8 – Jack Gillespie. … No. 1 – Aug. 19.
No. 7 – Josh Huestis, Great Falls CMR, and Tres Tinkle, Missoula Hellgate
Back in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, it was fairly common to have 15 or 20 Montana high school athletes from a single graduating class sign to play Division I college basketball. MTN Sports’ top 20 countdown of some of the best players in the state’s history reflects the depth of those eras, but two modern success stories now join the #MTTop50. Though they never played against each other, Josh Huestis and Tres Tinkle might forever be linked.
Josh Huestis and Tres Tinkle stat sheet
As basketball has evolved, so too has the publicity surrounding the country’s best players. In this day and age of internet searches and social media posts, the Huestis-Tinkle comparison will likely continue in Montana for years to come. Their high school careers didn’t overlap, but plenty of similarities exist. Both won state championships, both were two-time Gatorade Player of the Year winners, and both continued their careers at Pac-12 colleges (Huestis at Stanford and Tinkle at Oregon State).
Huestis starred at Great Falls CMR, helping guide the Rustlers to the 2009 and 2010 Class AA state championships, capturing all-state and tournament MVP honors both seasons. He averaged 17.3 points, 12.8 rebounds, 4.8 blocks, 1.4 steals and 1.3 assists per game as a senior. After a redshirt season at Stanford, the 6-foot-8 forward demonstrated the defensive presence in the Pac-12 that he showcased at the high school level in Montana. He was named to the Pac-12 defensive team as both a junior and senior and is the program’s all-time leader in blocks (190) and ranks eighth in career rebounds (834). The Oklahoma City Thunder selected Huestis with the 29th pick in the first round of the 2014 NBA draft. He saw his first NBA action during the 2015-16 season, appearing in five games.
Tinkle burst on to the Montana basketball scene as a sophomore when he helped lead Missoula Hellgate to the Class AA state championship in 2013. A versatile 6-foot-7 guard/forward, Tinkle was a three-time all-state selection for the Knights. He averaged 21.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.8 steals per game as a junior and upped his averages to 24.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.1 steals per game as a senior. His stellar play on the AAU circuit – as well as strong performances at invitation-only camps across the country – earned Tinkle national recognition. Multiple recruiting services had Tinkle listed as a four-star recruit, with ESPN ranking him has high as the No. 46 class-of-2015 player in the country. Tinkle is heading into his sophomore season at Oregon State playing for his dad, Wayne. Tres averaged 13.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game as a freshman.
(UPDATE: Huestis played in 69 games during the 2017-18 season with the Thunder but didn't re-sign with the team once his contract expired. He spent one season with the San Antonio Spurs' organization before starting a professional career overseas in 2019. Tinkle finished his college career as a three-time first-team all-conference selection and the all-time leading scorer at Oregon State with 2,233 career points. He also ranks second in OSU history with 882 career rebounds, fifth with 196 career steals and tied for eight with 374 career assists.)
… on Huestis and Tinkle:
Former Billings West coach Doug Robison: “I think in terms of where they were in high school and even when I watched Tres play last year at Oregon (State), I think he is a little more skilled offensively. And I would say Josh might be a better defensive player. In terms of where they are right now and trying to compare them to each other, I think they’re both comparable to each other. They’re both playing in the same conference (Pac-12). Tres had a great freshman year and did some very good things that I don’t think Josh was able to, even after his redshirt year. So, I think if I had to say, I would say Tres is a little bit more talented basketball-wise, and I think Josh might be a little bit more athletic.”
… on Huestis:
Great Falls CMR coach John Cislo: “He worked hard his entire high school career. He was one of those kids that would give me a call, ‘Can you open the gym up?’ He was always in the gym working on his outside game, his inside game. He’s a pretty dedicated kid and if you asked him to do something, he would do it. Yeah, he only took two 3s when he was in high school – I remember talking to coaches at Stanford before he headed off to the University of Stanford and saying, ‘Hey, do we need to move him for you so he’s better prepared?’ And they said, ‘No. Put him where you need him, so you can win.’ And for us that was inside controlling the paint defensively, getting the ball in the paint, and he was a dominant player for us.
“It’s just been a joy to watch and kind of an honor to watch this kid from Montana – you could say Great Falls – but he’s a Montana kid with Montana roots and I think the whole state gets behind him.”
… on Tinkle:
Missoula Hellgate assistant coach Eric Hays: “A tremendous matchup problem, because he was 6-7 with long arms. He could shoot the 3 really well, he could handle the ball, he could get into the lane and hang in the air and (use) body contortions that he was able to make some shots that most of us couldn’t even dream about. So he was able to play inside, he could play outside. If they wanted to put a smaller, quicker kid on him, (we would) get him around the basket and let him post up and take advantage of his size. If they put a big kid on him, we’d put him out on the perimeter. And he had that versatility and he didn’t mind. Some guys, ‘Well, I can’t play inside,’ or, ‘I don’t want to be a ball-handler.’ He did all of those things for us, and he did them all very well. I’m just glad we never had to guard him.
“He has the ability at the national level to be a ball-handler or to be a post-up type player. He had the versatility to play, and he had the ability to score. I think playing at the national level like he did improved his offensive skills, improved his defensive skills. He was challenged. Every time you go and play at a national tournament or a national camp, you’re going to be playing against really good players. He always had the ability to step up and play at the level that his competition was at.”