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 season.
In our fourth edition of the series, we turn to the tallest member of the Spartans. Marcus Bingham Jr., the 6-foot-11 center, took a step in the right direction this year and gave hope for a strong senior campaign in 2021-2022.
Averages per game: 11.5 minutes, 3.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 1.4 blocks, 0.6 steals, 50.0% fields goal percentage, 00.0% three point percentage, 73.8% free throw percentage
The numbers might not show it immediately, but Marcus Bingham Jr. took a gigantic step forward this past season. Even though he roughly had the same averages he already provided as a sophomore, his late season surge was a huge key to the Spartans securing a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the 23rd consecutive season. He started five games in midseason but his best play came after that stretch, roughly starting when MSU entered its “do or die“ phase of the schedule. After looking unfocused early in the year, and dealing with the same problems that have plagued him for his entire career in East Lansing, Bingham played extremely aggressive toward the end of the season, got comfortable with his role and provided all the things that only he is capable of bringing to the table.
His biggest impact, of course, came on defense and as a rim protector. His wingspan is a true weapon and he can wreak havoc with his blocking ability against almost any opponent. He also handled himself well in the post and provided stiff competition to premier big men like Kofi Cockburn of Illinois, Trayce Jackson-Davis of Indiana and Hunter Dickinson of Michigan. Bingham moved his feet a lot better lately, was aware of his surroundings and he seemed to cherish his important role as a last line of defense. On offense, he finished dump offs at a high rate, he made his free throws and moved the ball well whenever it found him. He also showed a little bit of development in his post-game, connecting on quite a few nice hook shots and short jumpers. Even if he hasn’t fully earned the trust of the coaching staff, his minutes went up significantly during the last month of the season. Some argue those minutes should have went up even further.
Bingham’s problems remain basically the same. He still struggles to put on significant weight, has a tendency for mental lapses from time to time and his foot speed sometimes hurts him, especially against quicker opponents and small ball lineups (like the one Maryland used this past season). His lack of strength, even if he has improved a bit here, still remains an issue and hurts him on both ends of the court. Bingham at times struggles to keep his man out of the lane, he has issues boxing opponents out and he gets moved off of his spot too easily on offense. Most of the time he tries to make up for that with his length, yet when he doesn’t move his feet accordingly it can lead to a lot of reaching and quick fouls.
Mentally, Bingham’s game remains a work in progress, too. He finally found a mean streak this year, but his motor could still run a lot faster with improved conditioning. Offensively Bingham has shown some flashes in his post-game, but as of now is still a player that basically needs to be set up in order to be effective. His numbers per 36 minutes are quite impressive, which leaves you wondering why he doesn’t invest his energy more consistently.
At first it seemed like another year of unfulfilled potential for Marcus Bingham Jr., but then he really developed into an impact player down the stretch. The positives he provided far outweighed the obvious negatives he brings to the floor, and this offers a lot of hope for his upcoming senior year. When he is mentally committed, and if he continues to develop his body, there is no reason why he shouldn’t be a very important part of the Michigan State rotation in 2021-2022. if so, Bingham should offer a high level inside presence for at least 20 minutes a night as a senior.
OVERALL SEASON GRADE