According to 247Sports, Hunter Dickinson was rated as the 42nd-best high school prospect in the 2020 class.
Just a few months ago, though, in a Michigan recruiting class that included five-star Isaiah Todd and was on the verge of adding five-star Josh Christopher, Dickinson was somewhat of an afterthought. It seemed back then that the 7-foot-1 center out of Maryland powerhouse DeMatha Catholic was going to be a noteworthy pickup for the Wolverines but wasn’t going to be the headliner of a loaded class.
Then Christopher spurned Michigan for Arizona State and Todd opted for the NBA G-League in lieu of college ball. Suddenly, Dickinson was the featured name of a solid class.
Though it’s early in Dickinson’s career, the Wolverines may already have a gem on their hands according to those around the program.
“His abilities on the court though are why we went so hard after him in the recruiting process,” Michigan assistant coach Saddi Washington said. “Much like Jon (Teske), he just has a presence with his size and his length. He’s an elite-level passer, he can handle the ball and get his shot from the perimeter. So he has all the attributes that coach Juwan has looked for in that position.”
Added guard Mike Smith, a graduate transfer from Columbia: “It’s crazy how different it is from high-major to mid-major and low-major in terms of talent. Like with Hunter, having a 7-foot-1 dude who can stretch the floor like that and post-up. You don’t see that everywhere.”
Dickinson’s offensive versatility is his strong point. While he can shoot the midrange jumper and has a soft touch around the basket, his 7-foot-1, 255-pound frame allows him to bully smaller opponents down low.
As with most freshmen, though, his ability to learn and execute defensive schemes will likely dictate whether the Wolverines can keep him in the lineup.
“Defending and rebounding are two things that it normally takes young guys a while to grasp,” Washington said. “Most freshmen come in pretty high level from an offensive perspective, but I think the guys that really understand early defensive principles, being able to defend without fouling, rebounding at a high level, those are the guys that get a lot of opportunities to play. So we’re definitely going to try and grow Hunter in those areas so that we can find ways to keep him on the floor.”
With center Jon Teske graduated, Michigan sorely needs a shot-blocker. Dickinson, who averaged 2.1 blocks during his senior year of high school, fits that bill. Dickinson will have to face a number of talented and imposing big men in the Big Ten — Luka Garza, Kofi Cockburn and Trevion Williams to name a few — so avoiding foul trouble is a must as well.
In addition to Dickinson’s play on the court, his presence off of it has also impressed his coaches and teammates.
“Man, the kid has swag and confidence,” Washington said. “That stood out from the beginning, just his belief in himself and his ability. But even as a person, he’s a very funny and outgoing guy. He’s just a fun young man to be around.”
Added fifth-year center Austin Davis: “I love Hunter, man. He’s a character. He brings a lot to the locker room besides basketball. He gets along really well with everyone on the team and works his tail off.”
Dickinson’s name may not have initially resonated with Michigan fans like Todd or Christopher’s, but the Wolverines’ top-rated recruit seems to have the skill set and now, opportunity to shine.
“He’s going to be a tremendous asset to the team on both ends of the floor,” Davis said. “So I’m really excited to see what we can do with him this year.”
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