Men’s Basketball Head Coach Juwan Howard stares at the court. His knees are slightly bent, and his hands are on his knees focused on the game. Players on the bench and spectators can be seen in the background.
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Last October, the Michigan men’s basketball team added a key piece to its 2023 recruiting class in four-star center Papa Kante, the No. 32 ranked recruit in the class. 

Despite the commitment, Kante has requested a release from his National Letter of Intent with Michigan. First reported by Joe Tipton of On3, Kante will open his recruitment. 

“After a lot of thought and conversations with my family, I have decided to request a release from my NLI to (the) University of Michigan,” Kante said in a Twitter statement. “Thank you to the coaching staff and Michigan fans for their interest in me. Thank you to all my supporters, friends and family for continuing to show love.”

This is a significant loss for the Wolverines, as it cuts their incoming freshman class in half and compounds the gaping hole in the frontcourt following the departure of Hunter Dickinson to the transfer portal. Kante was a likely candidate to help fill the void Dickinson left behind, alongside rising sophomore big Tarris Reed Jr.

Standing at 6-foot-10, Kante’s size and physicality have been an effective part of his game. His shot blocking and rebounding prowess would have been especially useful for Michigan due to its lack of depth at the center position. 

This past summer, Kante averaged 10.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks with the NY Renaissance at Nike’s EYBL Circuit. The Wolverines won’t be able to benefit from that balanced production though.

After losing its captain and leading scorer in Dickinson, it appeared like Kante would help fill that hole.

But that hole won’t be patched up — at least not by Kante.