Michigan State Basketball: Marcus Bingham Jr. facing crucial junior season

Marcus Bingham Jr., Michigan State basketball (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Marcus Bingham Jr., Michigan State basketball (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

Marcus Bingham Jr. has had a relatively quiet start to his Michigan State basketball career and now he’s facing a critical junior season.

Two seasons into his Michigan State career, Marcus Bingham Jr. is still searching for his role.

As a recruit, he was highly-touted out of Grand Rapids, Mich., and some even dubbed him a one-and-done type of player but he was extremely raw coming in. His weight was an immediate concern and that nearly led Tom Izzo to redshirt him in order to get him ready for a second season with another year of eligibility to work on his frame.

That didn’t quite happen and he appeared in 24 games as a true freshman, averaging just 3.5 minutes per contest. He averaged 1.0 points and 1.1 rebounds as well.

As a sophomore, he saw his numbers jump a bit to 11.1 minutes and 3.5 points and 3.6 rebounds. He also utilized that length and averaged 1.4 blocks per game and held his own against some of the best bigs in the Big Ten.

Entering his junior season, Bingham Jr. needs to emerge as the first or second big to come off the bench or even give Joey Hauser a run for his money.

Where he fits in Michigan State basketball’s rotation

There’s one major decision looming that could directly impact his playing time for the 2020-21 season and that’s Xavier Tillman’s. If he returns for a senior season, Bingham Jr. will be fighting to be that first or second big off the bench. He’ll be battling it out with Malik Hall, Mady Sissoko, Julius Marble and Thomas Kithier.

There’s a good chance Bingham Jr. and Hall will be the first bigs off the bench and that’s good for the former. He needs a big junior season to get on the NBA radar. Getting on that radar is important to set up a huge senior season which could get him from late-second to undrafted range to a first-round prospect.

Coming to Michigan State, Bingham Jr. had hopes of being a Jaren Jackson Jr.-like player who could stretch the floor and play defense as an athletic big with length, but he just hasn’t gotten any thicker which is an issue.

The potential is there, but he needs to have a big summer, put on 15-20 more pounds and work on that long-range jumper and he could get to where he needs to be. Remember, it took Adreian Payne a couple of years to figure it out in Michigan State’s system and he was a star as a senior.

There’s still time and I believe Bingham Jr. will be first or second big off the bench as a junior, but he needs to have a much bigger impact than he did in 2020-21.

A good season will be 8-9 points per game with 4-5 rebounds and two blocks while shooting around 35 percent from three and 50 percent from the floor.

If he can get this to happen, he’ll approach that NBA radar.

Next. 3 massive benefits from Josh Langford return. dark