With the 2020-2021 Michigan State men’s basketball season over, we will take individual looks at how each Spartan performed over the course of the year.
In our seventh edition of the series, we judge how Julius Marble did during his sophomore year where he developed nicely, and in which areas the Texas native has to improve going forward.
Averages per game: 9.3 minutes, 4.0 points, 2.1 rebounds, 0.1 assists, 0.1 steals, 0.1 blocks, 57.7% fields goal percentage, 100.0% three point percentage, 68.4% free throw percentage
The last game of the year was a perfect microcosm of Julius Marble’s season. He scored eight points in just 14 minutes against UCLA in the NCAA Tournament, proving that he can score on the grandest of stages and do it effectively and efficiently, too. He didn’t do much else, but MSU’s overtime loss once again was a great example of how offensively talented Marble really is. There are usually one or two plays per game in which you are just astonished how far he has come already in terms of scoring the basketball. For example, when he absolutely buried Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell from underneath the basket for an easy hook shot score, or when he connected on a smooth mid-range jumper numerous times throughout the year. Marble has proven to be a very skilled offensive player who can easily switch it up between playing with his back to the basket and facing up. On top of that he moves well without the ball and is a pretty good offensive rebounder when he puts his mind to it.
Marble’s best game of the year came during the road win against Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium (12 points in 12 minutes, while making all five of his field goal attempts). Before that contest, he approached Tom Izzo about what he could do better in order to earn more minutes. It proves how eager Marble is to learn and to develop. Whenever he is on the floor he is very active, highly motivated and the fact that the coaching staff made him a starter for the last nine games of the year proves how much they value his upside. His defense during those last few games also showed significant improvement compared to earlier in the year as well.
As advanced as Marble is operating on the offensive end, his defense was a big problem for most of his sophomore campaign. Even though he is quick and athletic enough to basically guard anyone the opponent trots out at the four and five, he just never truly got a grip on what to do defensively. Sometimes he made head-scratching mental mistakes, sometimes he played with bad technique and other times he just didn’t seem to work hard enough on that end. The same could be said for his rebounding, where he at times proves to be a bit raw and where he could muster more energy (especially for someone fighting for minutes). It seems that he is a fairly tough player, and during his freshman year he showed that he can throw his body around, yet this season there wasn’t enough of that as he interpreted his role much more offensive-minded.
At times Marble played a little bit jittery, which led to some unfortunate plays. Him slowing down mentally a bit would help him a great deal, especially on defense. He also struggled tremendously with fouls as he averaged a ridiculous 10.2 fouls per 40 minutes this past season. While decent, his free throw shooting could use a little bit of work, especially considering he usually shows great touch from midrange.
It must have been a tough season for Julius Marble after losing his father (who was just 44 years old) last year, and everything he did was that more impressive considering this tragedy. In terms of pure basketball, it’s a very easy deal for Marble. If he improves defensively and on the glass (for which he clearly has the skills as seen late in the year), he will earn more and more minutes going forward. Offensively, he is already there and has a truly diverse skillset that could work in a variety of lineups.
OVERALL SEASON GRADE