Although #11 Michigan State is losing a skilled big man in Jaren Jackson Jr. to the 2018 NBA Draft, the Spartans are getting another in its 2018 recruiting class in Marcus Bingham Jr., who has drawn comparisons to Jackson after an impressive high school career.

Bingham and his coach, T.J. Meerman, sat down with Spartan Nation for an exclusive interview to discuss his senior season at Grand Rapids Catholic Central and his upcoming freshman season in East Lansing.

When it comes to the comparisons between himself and Jackson, Bingham said that he can see similarities regarding upside and defense, but said that he feels he is more advanced in his outside shooting and ball handling.

“I’m 6-10, 6-11, really versatile, but the way my game is different from his is I think I shoot better than him and I can dribble really well,” he said. “We both play good defense and I compare my defense to his and we’re both really long and we have a lot of upside.”

In his senior season of high school, Bingham, who is considered the top boy’s basketball recruit in the state of Michigan for the 2018 class, helped lead Catholic Central to the Class B boys basketball final for the first time in the school’s history.

Meerman said that he’s seen both Jackson and Bingham go back-and-forth in a friendly argument regarding who the better shooter is and noted that Bingham shot almost 50-percent from 3-point range in his senior season.

“They go back and forth all of the time, every time I’ve seen them interact in practices and shooting competitions after practice and which one of them shoots better,” he said. “Jaren shot close to 40-percent from the arc during the season and Marc was at 47-percent for me. They were going back and forth and Jaren was telling him that’s high school, this is the Big Ten, so they go back-and-forth.”

When he played in the MHSAA semifinals and finals at the Breslin Center back in March, Bingham admitted that he caught himself a few times envisioning what it would be like when he stepped on the floor as a Spartan.

“The state championship and the game before that, just thoughts about wearing a Michigan State jersey and going on the court just kept running through my head throughout the whole game,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”

For those who saw Bingham in his senior season, one thing that was apparent with Bingham on the court was the fact he was playing with a bit of an edge, something that the 6-foot-10 standout said he made a point of doing last winter in an effort to prepare himself for the college game.

“I’ve got to play tougher, I’m going to the next level, so I know it’s not going to be easy and I’ve got to bring that toughness,” he said. “Make other people not want to do stuff with you.”

After transferring to Catholic Central midway through his junior year, Meerman said there was a bit of an adjustment period for Bingham and once his senior season came around, he saw his star forward emerge as a leader.

“I think just his comfort level with our system and our expectations, I think he got comfortable with that and I think he got comfortable with himself in our system, he was able to lead other people. It’s tough to be a leader when everything is brand new to you, like our pattern break, our defensive calls and rotations and I think once he got comfortable with everything he was doing, then the next part of holding himself accountable, holding his teammates accountable, I think that all sort of crept in to his leadership role.”

One thing that is widely known about Michigan State’s 2018 recruiting class is that the group, as a whole is a close-knit one that is in regular contact with one another as they all prepare for their first season at the college level.

Bingham said that while they weren’t alongside one another during the season and for the beginning of the offseason, each member of the recruiting class made it a point to stay in contact and made sure that they each take care of what needs to be done to be ready when they arrived on campus.

“We talk every day,” he said. “I know we’re not in the same area, but we all make sure we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing, going to the gym, working out every day. It’s just really talking and communicating with each other and that makes us together like we’re right by each other.”

Stay tuned to Spartan Nation for all of the latest news on Bingham and the Spartans!

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