A circuitous journey has brought power forward Dennis Tinnon to Marshall University.
words Michael Bradley | image Ron Haw
Listen to the story of how Dennis Tinnon made it to Marshall University, and you won’t believe it. It involves high school trouble, two junior colleges, a meat packing plant and a wedding ring. Oh, and lots of rebounding. It’s a tale of adversity and determination, and it’s almost unbelievable.
“Even if I could have recorded every day of my life since I was 14, I would still ask, How in the hell did I get here?” Tinnon says. “I’m not sure.”
The story begins in Milwaukee but doesn’t stay there long. In ’04, Tinnon’s mother moved him and his four siblings from Brew Town to Green Bay, and the 14-year-old didn’t like it. “I wanted to stay in Milwaukee and play basketball,” he says. When school started, Tinnon didn’t go. That became a refrain throughout his high school years. Tinnon was kicked out twice. There were scrapes with the law. Somehow he graduated and impressed the coach at Williston State College in North Dakota.
He lasted three weeks. “I said, This is not something that fits me,” Tinnon says. So he went back to Green Bay and took a job in a meat packing plant in order to earn enough money to buy his girlfriend, Robin, an engagement ring. “I had a hook in my hand for 10 hours a day, and my hands hurt so much,” Tinnon says.
After reaching his goal, Tinnon quit but had no other plans. In ’09, a friend asked him to come visit him at Kansas City Kansas Community College. The coach offered a scholarship, but Tinnon, who now had a wife, wasn’t sure. “I thought she’d say no, but she said, ‘Go ahead,’” Tinnon says.
The 6-8, 225-pounder went ahead and became a double double machine. Last year, he led the nation in rebounding (13.4 rpg) and scored 23.4 a night. He’ll look to fortify the Herd’s frontcourt and finish his wild journey. “I always thank God for leading me here,” Tinnon says.