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Michigan State Basketball Season in Review: Marvin Clark

This is the ninth post of my Season in Review series where I will analyze each MSU player’s season and give each a grade based on (my) preseason expectations

Marvin Clark getting some love after a big rebound against Louisville
Marvin Clark getting some love after a big rebound against Louisville
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

After getting a commitment from Tum Tum Nairn, the MSU coaching staff turned their sights to his Sunrise Christian teammate, Marvin Clark, a powerful 6’ 6" combo forward that could (reportedly) shoot. Power and shooting don’t usually go together when talking about freshman but Marvin Clark reclassified from the 2013 class to the 2014 class so he’s a year older than most of his classmates. It was hard to know what to expect from Clark as his high school highlight tape was 51 seconds long and consisted only of one dunk, two 3-pointers, 3 layups, and a behind the back dribble. He was the mystery man for 2014 and mostly an afterthought when trying to figure out rotations.

The Comparisons

Using this player comparison tool created by MGoBlog’s Alex Cook, these are the B1G players with the highest similarity scores (dates back to 2008):

Having something of a Crawford (more of a guard) or Berggren (more of a big) in the making would be nice. Both were 4 year players that were solid as juniors before regressing as seniors (Crawford had an injury). No one else on this list really developed into a star but there a few solid role players on here.

The Good

Clark had a very strong start to the year which was in part because he received more playing time with Branden Dawson getting injured during the Eastern Michigan game. He looked like a more athletic version of Kenny Kaminski from the 2013-14 season which provided a nice outside shooting option at the power forward spot when Branden Dawson sat. His season offensive rating of 107.1 was solid for a freshman especially considering he used a decent sized 20.8% of the possessions while on the floor. It also improved to 110.6 in conference play albeit with a smaller role at 16.3% usage. He had a great 2 point percentage making 42 of 65 of his shots inside the arc (66.2%) and a respectable 3P% making 21 of 62 (33.9%).

The Bad

Here’s a chart showing his strong start, compared to when he struggled a bit due to inconsistent minutes.

Minutes Points Points/40 TS%
First 13 games 14.2 7.8 22.2 67.3%
Next 16 games 6.8 1.7 9.9 38.7%

While it’s true that he played against tougher competition in the second group, he really struggled to find his spot when his minutes became limited. One issue is that while he did have good efficiency in conference play, he played much worse against tougher opponents. Using KenPom’s tier stats (tier B is a difficult opponent, tier A is even more difficult based on KenPom rating and game location) Clark had a poor 95.2 ORtg against in the 23 games against tier A&B opponents and an even worse 91.6 ORtg in the 17 games against tier A opponents. Another issue is that like most freshman he turned it over too much (20.3% TO rate) and couple that with the fact he had the second lowest assist rate on the team (5.2%) behind Gavin Schilling.


Remember that the grade is relative to incoming expectations. Clark went from the guy who was the most likely player to redshirt to playing most of the overtime against Louisville in the Elite 8. Yes he dropped down to earth after a great start for a freshman but he wasn’t expected to be a big contributor. One of the main reasons for his midseason dip was that he couldn’t get consistent minutes. You might’ve seen Joe throw up some #FreeMarvinClark’s throughout the season and he may very well get his wish next year. Most of the media following the team think he’s likely to be the starter at the 4 spot and there’s not another player in the 6’6"-6’8" range that can do the same things he does. Davis and Bess might compete for the starting 4 spot, but Bess is a little small and Davis a little big for most college 4’s. Regardless I would expect Clark to play somewhere between 15-20 minutes per game next year. With guys like Valentine, Harris, and Forbes it’ll be interesting to see where Clark ends up in the offensive pecking order for next year.

Grade A-


Travis Trice

Branden Dawson

Denzel Valentine

Matt Costello

Bryn Forbes

Gavin Schilling

Alvin Ellis

Tum Tum Nairn