Michigan State Basketball: What starting 5 with Emoni Bates could look like

Rocket Watts and Tom Izzo, Michigan State basketball (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Rocket Watts and Tom Izzo, Michigan State basketball (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Michigan State basketball picked up the commitment of the century in five-star forward Emoni Bates on Monday. What could a future lineup with him look like?

Emoni Bates shocked the nation on Monday afternoon when he announced on Sportscenter that he was verbally committing to Michigan State.

The first thought through everyone’s heads was, “Will he ever actually suit up for the Spartans?”

It’s a good question, but there’s reason to believe he will. There’s no guarantee that the one-and-done rule will be squashed by the 2022 NBA Draft and there’s also a good chance the Gatorade Player of the Year will reclassify and join the 2021 class.

Bates’ commitment opened a world of possibilities for the Spartans and I’m going to look at what a future starting five, assuming he reclassifies to 2021, with the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect would look like.

Let’s get things started with what the bench might just look like in this best-case scenario.


Let me start off by saying that if the starting five plays out like the way people hope, these guys will likely come off the bench, but there will need to be some attrition following the 2020-21 season.

There are nine guys who come off the bench here and that’s assuming Aaron Henry chooses to go the pro route for good after his junior season. Someone will have to either declare for the NBA draft early — other than Henry — or transfer.

But here’s a rough estimate of the bench

  • Gabe Brown (sixth man)
  • Marcus Bingham Jr. (sixth man 2.0)
  • Malik Hall
  • Jaden Akins (predicting a commitment)
  • Pierre Brooks
  • Thomas Kithier
  • Julius Marble
  • AJ Hoggard
  • Foster Loyer

I see Gabe Brown getting starter’s minutes off the bench and same with Marcus Bingham Jr. Both of these seniors could very well be in the starting lineup for the 2021-22 season. Both will be leaders of the team and will be critical pieces to the national title puzzle. All we ask is that Bingham Jr. adds some good weight.

Malik Hall could also be a sixth man or starting forward candidate as he figures to be one of the best athletes on the team and a scorer from everywhere on the floor.

Jaden Akins will commit to Michigan State and step up as the backup point guard while AJ Hoggard will play some one and two off the bench. These guys will make up one of the best backup backcourts in college basketball along with Pierre Brooks at shooting guard. Foster Loyer will get some minutes, too, if he can prove to handle extended minutes.

Lastly, Julius Marble and Thomas Kithier will add some depth to the post and both will be solid contributors. I don’t think we’ve seen either even scratch the surface yet.