Izzo ’99 percent sure’ he won’t redshirt Bingham Jr.

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo met with the media on Monday ahead of Tuesday’s Champions Classic. As No. 10 Michigan State gears up to face No. 1 Kansas in the college basketball season opener, one of the biggest questions entering the 2018-19 campaign is how–or if–freshman Marcus Bingham Jr. will be used.

Whether Bingham Jr. will play this season is anyone’s guess following comments made last week, but Izzo is leaning towards playing the freshman.

“Not 100 percent totally, but I’m 99 percent sure I’m not going to redshirt him,” Izzo said. “He’s kind of a unique kid that my reasons for redshirting aren’t always because he’s not ready yet — because he’s not on the defensive end.”

In MSU’s lone exhibition against Northern Michigan, Bingham Jr. played an efficient nine minutes, posting 12 points. After missing his first dunk attempt, he showed his versatility by making a pair of three-pointers and connecting on a put-back dunk.

“I just don’t know,” Izzo said. “I’m going off of a game against Northern [Michigan] where he looked like a poor man’s Kevin Durant.”

Despite questions surrounding Bingham Jr.’s defensive production, even providing the bare minimum will be a large input for an MSU frontcourt that is looking for depth – something Izzo has expressed this Spartan team needs.

“I’ll be honest with you, the last couple of practices, I’m not sure I’m there yet,” Izzo said. “Especially when if there’s one thing we’re lacking, it’s size… And then I’m looking at him up in Gonzaga where they had a bunch of fourth and fifth-year, pretty solid post players and he struggled.”

As a big man, there were questions about Bingham Jr.’s size. Although he stands at 6-foot-11, he weighed in at 195 pounds when he first stepped on Michigan State’s campus.

“If I looked at him the last two days, he’s really made some progress,” Izzo said. “He’s up to 211. That’s a lot of weight gain for him. Again, he’s got a long ways to go to make that good enough to survive.”

Bingham Jr., his family and Izzo have one more day to decide, and the decision may very well be made in-game.

“If I get there tomorrow night and don’t play him for whatever reasons and have another few days to look at it – but it’ll always be his decision,” Izzo said. “His decision now, I don’t think he’d like to.

If Bingham plays in any game this season, he will not be able to redshirt under NCAA rules.

MSU tips off against the Jayhawks at 7 p.m. EST Tuesday at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.