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William Tinsley

Ridgeview High School graduate William Tinsley has realized his childhood dream by becoming a member of the Illinois State basketball team. Tinsley, a junior, is expected to play a key role for the Redbirds this season.

William Tinsley knew what was coming. He didn't have to wait for the end.

As a reporter relayed a quote from Illinois State basketball coach Dan Muller regarding Tinsley's defense, the former Ridgeview High School standout jumped in.

"He said you can be a terrific defender ... " the reporter said.

"... when I want to be," Tinsley said, finishing the sentence. "He says it all the time, that if I get that extra motor I'll be terrific."

Don't get the wrong idea. Tinsley is plenty revved up about being at ISU after two seasons at Lake Land College.

Tinsley grew up in Colfax dreaming of being a Redbird. He has one word to describe what it's been like so far, the defense thing notwithstanding.

"Perfect," he said.

If you haven't seen Tinsley in a while, he's not the guy you remember. The pencil-thin 6-foot-4 Ridgeview senior who led the Mustangs to third place in the 2015 Class 1A State Tournament no longer exists.

He's grown to 6-6 and weighs 205 pounds. It wasn't that way as recently as June 1, when Tinsley was 6-6 but tipped the scales at 189.

That began to change his first day on campus after a few words from Muller.

"I was in the weight room and he told me, 'You can transform your body or you can just be average,'" Tinsley said. "Ever since then I've gained a lot."

The weightlifting work has been augmented by a strict regimen at the dinner table. Tinsley no longer has the luxury of skipping a meal.

The coaches are watching ... perhaps not physically, but via text messages, etc.

"I have to eat a lot. I have to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, and I have to make sure I tell them so they'll know I'm eating and keeping my body weight up," Tinsley said.

A bigger, stronger body has added a few feet to Tinsley's already impressive shooting range.

His long-range accuracy produced 96 3-pointers as a senior at Ridgeview and he sank 39 percent of his attempts both years at Lake Land.

Now, he is comfortable out where basketball's multimillionaires take aim.

"I can pick up at the NBA range (23 feet, 9 inches)," Tinsley said. "I can shoot more effectively from there now.

"Coach tells specific people when to shoot and he gets on people who take bad shots. Every time I take a shot in practice, he doesn't say anything. He has a lot of confidence in me."

Muller confirmed Tinsley has been among the team's most consistent scorers in practice along with Phil Fayne, Keyshawn Evans and Milik Yarbrough.

The ISU coach also will tell you Tinsley is athletic and "can do some things off the dribble, can do some things in the post."

As for the defense, Muller smiled when asked if he had "suggested" to Tinsley that he pick it up on that end of the floor.

"I recommended it," Muller said. "Yeah, I sure have."

"He loves defense," Tinsley said later. "He preaches defense. My defense has added another notch to it since I got here this summer."

Consider it a work in progress, much like ISU's young and injury-riddled team in general.

Tinsley likes the unity formed over the summer and looks forward to seeing familiar faces from Colfax in the stands at Redbird Arena, where as a Ridgeview senior he and the Mustangs won the super-sectional.

He's not the same player now and will be even better a month down the road, Muller predicted. Already, Tinsley has grasped the ISU way of life heading into Sunday's 2 p.m. exhibition game vs. Lewis.

"Junior college was more open. Here, everything is business," he said. "You can't waste a day, you can't waste a second. Everything means a lot."

Yes, even defense.

Especially defense.

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Follow Randy Kindred on Twitter: @pg_kindred


Sports Editor

Sports editor for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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