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MU's Tinnon now a college graduate

May. 12, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Dennis Tinnon reached the end of a long and winding road Saturday.

Marshall Thundering Herd basketball fans who supported Tinnon the last two seasons should be cheering their loudest for the new college graduate.

Tinnon traded his No. 1 basketball jersey for a cap and gown Saturday during Marshall's commencement in Big Sandy Superstore Arena. He received a bachelor's degree in business administration.

"It feels good to reach the finish line," he said. "I am truly excited I made it."

It wasn't long ago Tinnon wondered if he'd even get a high school diploma.

The 24-year-old was kicked out of Green Bay (Wisc.) East High School as a junior for some incidents that included stealing football tickets from the office. He returned for his senior year, but didn't have enough credits to graduate.

He also did some weekend jail time.

Then he enrolled briefly in fall 2007 at Williston State, a junior college in North Dakota, to take GED classes and get a high school diploma. He got in more trouble after an incident involving shooting a BB gun at a stop sign, however, and left the junior college after a few weeks before making it to a practice or game. He served four months in jail on a probation violation.

After returning to Green Bay East and graduating in fall 2008, he landed at Kansas City Kansas Community College for two seasons and left with an associate degree. He was the nation's leading junior college rebounder in 2010-11.

Tinnon signed with Marshall and played for two seasons, but his five-year eligibility clock started at Williston and it took an exhausting appeal process and a favorable ruling from the NCAA for him to play for the Herd last season.

Actually, it took just four years start to finish with summer school included for Tinnon to get a bachelor's degree.

And, he said it went right down to the wire with a class he needed to complete and pass on Tuesday.

"I was praying I passed that class," he said.

Tinnon could have easily quit before reaching the finish line, but he didn't because of what it means to himself, his wife, Robin, and their young children, Denyah and Dennis III.

"The thing that drove me was my family," he said. "They kept me on the right track. I'm glad she (Robin) stayed on me because this (diploma) is a very important piece of paper."

A basketball career can end abruptly, but a college degree can't be taken away, he said.

He said it's scary thinking about life without basketball, but if his playing days end without a pro career, he'll understand it.

Tinnon, obviously, is hoping to play some more. He signed with an agent who Tinnon said is doing everything he can to line up some NBA camps this summer as well as looking at possible opportunities overseas.

He said the family is already "packed and ready" to go wherever he might get to play.

Tinnon has continued working out at Marshall since the Herd season ended.

Following graduation he had a trip to Wisconsin planned, but after that week, "I'll come back here and get back at it," he said.

The 6-foot-8, 232-pound forward averaged 10.5 points and 9.1 rebounds a game as a senior and nearly matched the double-double of 10.2 points with 10.0 rebounds he put up as a junior.

Marshall's basketball history shows only six players with at least 600 rebounds in two seasons -- Charlie Slack, Bob Burgess, Randy Noll, J.R. VanHoose, Hal Greer -- and Tinnon.

His field goal shooting percentage tailed off from 55.4 to 47.8 in his second season when he attempted more 3-pointers.

"I think I can play with anybody in the country," he said.

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