For the past month, one question has loomed over not only the Michigan basketball team, but the college basketball community as a whole:
Where will Hunter Dickinson go?
While the answer to that question remained unknown until now, it seemed to be clear that the junior center would not be returning to Ann Arbor. That notion was confirmed on Thursday, as Dickinson announced on his Twitter that he will be transferring to Kansas.
The Jayhawks were one of the strongest teams in the country last season, earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Although Kansas is losing its leading scorer in Jalen Wilson — who was at one point committed to Michigan — Jayhawks coach Bill Self’s history and supporting cast of players alleviate concerns about the team regressing.
Although Kansas’s tournament run ended in underwhelming fashion in the second round, the Jayhawks won a national championship two years ago — and with Dickinson now on the team, Kansas positions itself to once again contend for that title.
As the No. 1-ranked transfer in the portal, Dickinson spent the past 32 days being courted by blue bloods like Kansas and Kentucky, schools close to home like Maryland and Georgetown and programs with former teammates like Villanova. Both Kansas and Kentucky even flew their head coaches up to Ann Arbor to meet with Dickinson in an attempt to capture his interest in their respective schools.
When Dickinson initially entered the transfer portal, one of the reasons behind that decision was his focus on winning, and using that to foster his NBA Draft stock.
Back in February, Dickinson discussed his then-unknown future, and the factor that the Wolverines’ success — or lack thereof, at times — plays in it.
“For me, my draft stock kind of depends on my team’s success and how far my team goes and stuff like that,” Dickinson said on The Michigan Insider podcast. “So I’ve never really been able to make decisions before the end of the season because I’ve just been weighing on how my team does and how I perform at the end of the season because that’s when your draft stock can rise the highest.”
The shortcomings that Dickinson alluded to were reinforced this past year, as Michigan failed to make the NCAA Tournament outright. Even the prior season, when the Wolverines reached the Sweet Sixteen, the team lacked consistency and looked shaky throughout the season before going on a run at the right time.
And now that Michigan is without Dickinson — its one source of consistent production — those issues are even more rampant. With Dickinson’s departure, the Wolverines have three starting spots to fill. Forward Tarris Reed Jr. appears to be the likely candidate to fill Dickinson’s role next year, but Reed played just 12.6 minutes per game in his freshman campaign, and expecting Dickinson-like production is an unrealistic expectation.
Reed likely won’t be able to fill the hole Dickinson leaves behind himself, and it’s unknown who else can help him make up for it next season. The ‘4’ position had major issues, lacking consistency last season, and losing the second- and third-leading scorers behind Dickinson — wing Jett Howard and guard Kobe Bufkin, respectively — leaves Michigan with more questions than answers.
It’s unclear how — or if — the Wolverines can find other sources of production to compensate for Dickinson’s departure. It’s a problem Michigan understood it might have to deal with when he entered the transfer portal, but now it’s a problem that can’t be avoided.