NORMAL — William Tinsley said his dream while growing up in Colfax was to become a member of Illinois State’s basketball team. That dream will turn into a reality for the Ridgeview High School graduate.
The 6-foot-6 Tinsley, who will be a sophomore guard at Lake Land College in Mattoon, announced Friday he will sign a national letter intent with ISU in November and become the first Redbird recruit in the Class of 2017. Tinsley will have two years of eligibility with the Redbirds beginning next fall.
“Ever since I was little I always wanted to go to ISU. Being 30 minutes away is phenomenal,” said Tinsley. “If I would have went to Florida State it would have been rare (for family and friends) to watch a home game. ISU is right there and they can catch any home game.”
Tinsley averaged 15.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game for Lake Land last season. He shot 42.7 percent from the field, 38.9 percent on 3-pointers and 73.7 percent at the free-throw line.
NCAA rules prohibit ISU coach Dan Muller from commenting until he signs a national letter of intent.
Tinsley didn’t have any Division I offers after helping Ridgeview to third place in the 2014 Class 1A State Tournament. His recruiting stock soared when he attended Mullen’s Junior College Top 100 Camp in Overland Park, Kan., in July. Florida State and ISU offered while San Diego State showed strong interest.
Tinsley visited ISU, Evansville and Eastern Illinois before deciding to follow his lifelong dream with the Missouri Valley Conference program close to home. Associate coach Luke Yaklich was the lead recruiter for the Redbirds.
“It (being offered by Florida State) was very tempting and San Diego State would have been fun, but at the same time it’s hard work. The same with ISU,” said Tinsley, who has grown three inches since playing for Ridgeview and has a 6-8 wingspan while weighing 193 pounds.
“I’ll love competing in the MVC and hopefully making the (NCAA) tournament one day with ISU and be a proud alumni and give back to ISU.”
Tinsley said Ridgeview coach Rodney Kellar, a fomer ISU football player, was a big factor in his decision. Kellar’s son, Michael, is the pitching coach for ISU’s baseball team and his daughter, Lauren, played softball for the Redbirds.
“William has come so far in a few years not just physically, but as a player. That’s what is so exciting,” said Kellar. “He has a great opportunity at ISU and a great culture. ISU is close to my heart. I’m excited for William and his family and excited for our community, too.
"William is going to be close to home and playing for a great program and great university. I feel he will do great things with Coach Muller, Coach Yaklich and their staff.”
Tinsley said he has already developed a close bond with Yaklich.
“He told me it will be academics first, and that’s big with me and my family,” said Tinsley. “He’ll get me in the weight room and bigger and put more pounds on me and get me to my full potential as a basketball player and student. I’m more than confident Coach Muller and Coach Yaklich will help me develop my game and become a better all-around player.”
Tinsley said he wants to “get bigger, work on my handles and be a better team player” this season at Lake Land.