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Will Michigan State’s Gabe Brown, Marcus Bingham Jr. or Joey Hauser return in 2022-2023?

Big Ten Tournament - Michigan State vs Wisconsin Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

A couple of days have passed since Michigan State’s heartbreaking 85-76 loss to Duke in the Round of 32 in the 2022 NCAA Tournament.

Now, all eyes turn to the offseason for Tom Izzo and the MSU men’s basketball program. It has been reported by (subscription required to read the full article) that the Spartans plan to be active in the transfer portal to fill holes on the roster entering the 2022-2023 season.

While Michigan State will certainly be looking to add some outside pieces to supplement the roster, what about the guys who are currently on the team?

Seniors Gabe Brown (forward/wing), Joey Hauser (forward) and Marcus Bingham Jr. (center) all have the option to return for the 2022-2023 campaign, via the COVID-19 blanket waiver for an extra year of eligibility awarded to all winter athletes during the 2020-2021 season.

As of press time, none of those players have made any official decisions, but listening to their postgame comments following the loss to Duke, and reading the aforementioned report from SpartanTailgate, there are certainly some clues to follow.

“Prior to the start of the NCAA Tournament, it was a foregone conclusion that Bingham would not be coming back for his fifth season,” Justin Thind of Spartan Tailgate wrote. “Assuming the past couple weeks didn’t change anything for Bingham, the Spartans will need to replace their starting center next season.”

The center position is expected to be the highest priority for the Spartans in the transfer portal, especially if Bingham does not return.

Bingham, who scored 16 points against Duke, spoke to the media after the Round of 32 game, and his comments seemed to hint toward a departure. Bingham referred to next year’s Michigan State’s team as “them” and “they.”

“A lot of mixed emotions,” Bingham said. “I want to be proud, but at the same time, mad that we’re not playing another night. I think the guys went out there and played hard from the first half into the second half. We fought. Just some situations, we just didn’t pull through.

“It’s something for the team next year to learn from. Coach (Izzo) has been here before. This gives them motivation going into the offseason to work hard and get stronger and just remember this moment, so when they come back, they’ll be prepared.”

There seems to be a mutual understanding between Bingham and Michigan State that he has played his final game in a Spartan uniform, but nothing is final yet.

Brown’s postgame comments seemed to leave the door more open to a potential return, saying he would use the loss as fuel for next year, however, he could have been referring to a potential professional career instead of a return to East Lansing.

“Yeah, like Marcus (Bingham) said, it’s a lot of mixed emotions,” Brown said. “I put everything I had into being here, playing at Michigan State, everything I put into it for Coach Izzo, my teammates, for the staff, for everybody. I’m sad that I can’t play another night, but it’s motivation. It’s motivation for sure for next year.”

Brown led the Spartans with 18 points against Duke. From what I’ve heard, the staff would gladly welcome Brown, who was a team captain this season, back on next year’s team. However, there is no certainty that he plans to go that route.

Update: Brown posted this to his Instagram account on Tuesday, which seemingly implies his playing days at MSU could be over. However, there is still nothing official to report.

If Brown were to leave, one potential replacement at small forward would be West Virginia’s Jalen Bridges, who is currently in the transfer portal. Bridges has already been contacted by Michigan State, according to Thind.

Hauser didn’t speak to the media following the loss to Duke. Since transferring over from Marquette, Hauser has had a lot of ups and downs in his career as a Spartan. However, his 27-point outburst against Davidson in MSU’s opening NCAA Tournament game gave a glimpse into Hauser’s offensive potential, and if he did decide to return, Izzo and the staff would likely welcome him back. Again, though, that remains to be seen.

The plans for all three players will likely be revealed within the coming weeks, as the deadline for players with remaining eligibility to declare for the NBA Draft is April 24.

Remember, however, that players can test the NBA waters and retain college eligibility, if they withdraw their name from the NBA Draft prior to June 1 at 11:59 Eastern Time and follow the NCAA’s rules about hiring NCAA-certified agents (or not hiring an agent at all).

Additionally, players like Brown, Bingham or Hauser could pursue professional basketball elsewhere, such as overseas.

The full postgame press conference is below. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski and his players speak to the media first. Tom Izzo and the Michigan State players start to speak around the 21:15 mark.