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MSU's Marcus Bingham Jr., parents looking forward to 'one last dance'

Spartans' senior center heads into the final tournament of his college basketball career
Marcus Bingham, Jr.
Posted at 12:57 PM, Mar 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-17 18:26:31-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It's the beginning of the end for Michigan State's Marcus Bingham Jr. As a senior graduating in May, the Spartans' star center will play in the final NCAA men's college basketball tournament of his career.

Bingham Jr. is MSU's all-time leader in career blocks with 163, cementing his name in program history. That's an incredible accolade, but one that might not surprise you too much, considering he stands seven feet tall. His path to get to that point, though, is sure to catch your attention.

Bingham Jr. grew up in southwest Grand Rapids. He always loved the game of basketball, playing at parks in the area during the summer. However, it wasn't until Bingham Jr. was a sophomore at Ottawa Hills High School — just seven years ago — when he finally started playing organized basketball.

It certainly didn't hurt that Bingham Jr. had a six-inch growth spurt the summer before.

Full interview with Marcus Bingham Jr.

Bingham Jr. would end up transferring to Catholic Central High School in Grand Rapids to finish out his high school career before signing with the Spartans, the school his dad always dreamed of attending.

Bingham Jr.'s talent even took his parents by surprise.

“We would see him playing and neither of us knew that he was as good as he was, even then, that he could shoot that good, that he could dribble that good," said Marcus Bingham Sr. "We had never seen it. So, once he started playing high school ball, it was like, wow. Now look at him.”

As a freshman, the Spartans went on a deep run in the tournament, reaching the Final Four. Bingham Jr. appeared in one game, playing two minutes against the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the second round.

Bingham Jr. took one shot — a three pointer that splashed through the bottom of the next. It was a small moment in the game, but a big moment in his life.

“I forget who gave me a pass, but I think it was an inside-out three. I knocked it down," Bingham Jr. said with a smile on his face. “I can remember a picture of me, (Xavier Tillman) and Gabe (Brown) celebrating. That’s one of the pictures I’m going to frame some day.”

His mom, Jon Bondon, added, “I remember that moment. We were there. Those are surreal things that you dream about.”

Now, Bingham Jr. is a starter, playing 18.5 minutes per game, averaging 9.2 points per game and 6.1 rebounds per game. Bingham Jr.'s come a long way, but he hasn't forgotten his roots, and he never will, thanks to the tattoo on his arm that says 'GRAND RAPIDS' in all capital block letters, with Roman numberals underneath.

“Yeah, it's actually my grandma's — her passing date — in Roman numerals," he said. "Then I got the street sign, right there where I’m from.”

Bingham Jr.'s family has been with him every step of the way. They're already so proud of what he's accomplished, but excited to see how his Spartan story will end.

“One last one, one last dance," said Bondon.

“One last dance," echoed Bingham Sr.

The Spartans will look to take advantage of Bingham Jr.'s size if they want to make a deep run in this tournament.

MSU tips off Friday night at 9:40 p.m. against the 10-seed Davidson Wildcats.

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