Increasingly over recent years, it seems more and more high school recruits are receiving college scholarship offers earlier and earlier. I mean, think about it…how many recruits have we told you about here at Spartan Nation, between football and basketball, that are just sophomores in high school and already have multiple offers, or at the very least, have a significant amount of interest? There’s obviously nothing wrong with it, and hey…more power to the remarkable athletes that have earned those offers so early! But that’s what makes this next player’s recruiting process surprising and intriguing.
Marcus Bingham is a junior power forward at Grand Rapids Catholic Central High School in Grand Rapids, MI. He’s 6’10” and 195 pounds, a skill set that very few recruits possess to begin with. He’s a 3* recruit that now has offers from seven schools, including one from Michigan State, and interest from at least four more.
But what makes his story so intriguing is that his recruiting process has only started to gear up in the last couple of months - there wasn’t much action prior – and in comparison to some of those recruits who’ve had schools knocking on their doors for years, Marcus Bingham’s process has developed much, much later.
“I think with him a big question was his academics, and since he’s been here, he’s taken seven core classes and had a 3.0 in those, so I think that played into it,” Jon Meerman, Bingham’s high school coach at Grand Rapids Catholic Central High School, told Spartan Nation, of why Marcus’ recruiting process seemingly blew up so late. “I think him being a late bloomer – I think he grew really late into the game. I just think his overall growth has just exploded his game. His strength – he’s gained ten pounds of muscle from the end of the season ‘till now just working on his body and his diet.”
Actually, the element of strength is something that both Bingham and Meerman agree Marcus needs to work on.
“Just getting stronger,” Bingham admitted to Spartan Nation when asked what he needs to get better at.
“He came back from that first EYBL weekend and the first thing he said was, ‘Coach, I need to get stronger,’ and we’ve been working on that,” Coach Meerman said. “Coach Izzo and I talked when he was on campus, and I talk to every coach about this…if he gains another 10-15 [pounds] before he gets on that college campus, he’s going to be ready to go right away.”
But for Coach Meerman, his star player can also improve in areas other than his strength.
“Before he goes anywhere, I want to see him getting better at attacking the rim with a more aggressive mindset. [He’s] 6’10” and he can shoot the ball from the arc, which I really love, but with that length and that frame, he can affect so many plays if he’s just around the rim. Some of his biggest games for us this year were games where he had two or three tip-dunks off of offensive rebounds just being around the rim,” Coach merman explained.
Those are skills, along with the intangible of his height, which are not lost on Bingham.
“I can do a lot of stuff – I’m 6’10”, I can dribble, shoot, play any position that coach wants me to. I can defend the ball well, block shots, rebound,” Marcus admitted.
The height alone is something that few recruits possess. Add in the fact that, at 6’10”, he has the skill set of a shooting guard, and you’ve got the makings of a truly special player.
Michigan State, Purdue, Butler, Xavier, Missouri, Washington and VCU have all noticed those unique skills enough to offer Marcus a scholarship. Michigan, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Syracuse have all shown interest.
When asked what NBA player he though his game most resembled, Marcus gave us two – “Brandon Ingram and Kevin Durant,” he said. Ingram, the 2nd overall pick in the 2016 draft of the Los Angeles Lakers, and Durant, the 2007 2nd overall pick by the Seattle Supersonics, now playing for the Golden State Warriors, are both “Big Men” with “small ball-style” skills, which makes them both natural comparisons to Bingham.
From a Spartans standpoint, Tom Izzo and all three assistant coaches have kept an eye on Marcus.
“I think they like his all-around package the most,” Coach Meerman stated on what the MSU coaches have said they like the most about Bingham. “He’s 6’10” and in transition he doesn’t turn the ball over. He sees the court like a guard, he passes the ball really well, and to me as a coach, if a kid passes the ball really well, it means he’s got a good game and can do a lot of other things well.”
Marcus says he’d prefer to play at a school closer to home, but he also says he’s intrigued by the fact that his skills on the basketball court can take him out of state.
One thing that will never change about Marcus Bingham is his love and appreciation for the game and for life.
When asked what makes him smile, Bingham said, “Life! Just living. That’s what makes me smile.”
“When he gets that smile – it’s almost the “Magic Johnson-ish smile” – it goes ear-to-ear and it’s just genuine. He’s just a good kid,” Coach Meerman continued.
“His mom and dad are just good people – they’re fun to be around, they’re supportive. I’ve received calls from his mom the day before a game and she’ll just leave a voicemail that screams, ‘Let’s go! Let’s get it done tomorrow! I’ll be here cheering for all the boys!’ And his dad is very much the same way, and I think that trickles down to both Marcus and his younger brother, Mykel.”
Love and appreciation for the game, for his teammates, and for life…the height of a center with the skills of a guard…a quest to improve and succeed – this is what a special player looks like. It may have taken a while for his recruiting to blow up, but the word is out now! Whichever school lands this unique recruit will have one exceptional player on their hands.
“He’s a great kid,” Coach Meerman said. “He comes from a great family. He’s a very special kid!”