The 2020 pandemic put an end to a lot of basketball careers, but it might have extended Mike Marsh’s.
Marsh, Oklahoma State’s latest portal signee, played at junior college USC-Salkehatchie as a freshman in the 2019-20 season. He said he weighed 310 pounds that year. This past season at Jacksonville, Marsh was listed at 240 pounds all thanks to a regimen he started during the pandemic.
“It happened during quarantine,” Marsh told PFB. “There was really not too much that you could do because there were no gyms and stuff. I just decided that would be a good time to get in shape, trim down because everybody was just at home and just chilling. Nobody was really doing nothing because the gym was closed. So, I just used that time to lock into what really matters.”
Marsh said he would go down to a local high school football field and run 100-yard wind sprints and run bleachers. He also said he cut out fast food.
The weight Marsh had was useful in his first passion: football. Despite being 6-foot-11 now, Marsh said he didn’t regularly play organized basketball until his junior year of high school at Gray Collegiate Academy in West Columbia, South Carolina.
Given his size, basketball coaches were understandably trying to get Marsh to come play. Marsh said he was about 6-foot-7, 290 pounds as a seventh grader. He said he’d tell the coaches he wasn’t in basketball shape. Marsh said he gave basketball a shot during his freshman and sophomore years of high school, but he didn’t like it. It wasn’t until an injury on the football field where he finally fully made the move to becoming a basketball player.
“I got hurt, and I just said you know what, maybe it’s time for me to move on to another sport because I was growing really, really fast,” Marsh said. “When you’re so tall in football, man they aim straight for your legs.”
Marsh’s size was enough to get him a shot at USC-Salkehatchie, where Marsh played on a floor that wasn’t even wood. Salkehatchie won the conference that season, and Jake Williams, Marsh’s coach, got a job at Dodge City Community College in Kansas, where Marsh decided to follow.
He played in 21 games with Dodge City in 2020-21, averaging 11.7 points and 6.9 rebounds a game while shooting 67% from the field. That production put him on the radar of some mid-major Division-I schools where Marsh ultimately picked Jacksonville over Murray State thanks to a relationship with Jacksonville assistant Trevor Deloach, who Marsh had known since he was in high school.
In two years with the Dolphins, Marsh played in 51 games and made 36 starts. He averaged 9.4 points and 5.2 rebounds a contest while shooting 54% from the field.
Then the link with Deloach also helped get Marsh to Stillwater. Deloach is from South Carolina, and OSU coach Mike Boynton recruited Deloach out of high school. Deloach signed with South Carolina where he redshirted before transferring to UNC-Wilmington, but Boynton and Deloach have kept in touch.
Boynton is also familiar with Jacksonville head coach Jordan Mincy, who was a graduate assistant at South Carolina when Boynton was an assistant on the Gamecocks’ staff.
Marsh signed with OSU without visiting, but he said he planned on making a trip to Stillwater this week. It isn’t the first time that Marsh has committed to a program site unseen. He said he did the same in the transition from Dodge City to Jacksonville.
Marsh is stepping into what will be a new-look OSU team. Two players from last year’s roster exhausted their eligibility and another six entered the transfer portal. Minutes will be available, particularly in the frontcourt where the likes of Kalib Boone, Moussa Cisse and Tyreek Smith all transferred.
“One thing [Boynton] mentioned to me, he was like, ‘Just be prepared to work. Be prepared to get out of your comfort zone,’” Marsh said. “He always told me it’s all mental. Like 90% of the things that they do in practice, it’s all mental.”