Michigan's Hunter Dickinson to test NBA Draft waters, maintain eligibility

James Hawkins
The Detroit News
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After a stellar freshman season, Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson is going to explore the possibility of making the jump to the next level.

Dickinson announced Wednesday he will test the NBA Draft waters and will sign with an NCAA-certified agent to retain his college eligibility through the pre-draft process.

Michigan center Hunter Dickinson (1) will test the NBA draft waters.

“It has always been my dream to play in the NBA, so it is important for me to gather information before making this decision,” Dickinson wrote in a Twitter post. “I look forward to getting feedback and I am excited for the next steps of this process.

“I promise to work hard so I’m ready for whatever the future holds.”

The 7-foot-1 Dickinson was one of the top first-year players in the nation last season, helping the Wolverines earn a Big Ten regular-season title, a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and a spot in the Elite Eight.

He averaged a team-best 14.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks while shooting 59.8% from the field and recording six double-doubles in 28 games, including 23 starts. He was named the Big Ten freshman of the year and a consensus second-team All-American, tied a program record with seven Big Ten freshman of the week honors, and was a semifinalist for multiple national player of the year awards.

Dickinson’s combination of size, passing, vision, touch and low-post scoring made him a headache for opposing defenses and commanded plenty of attention.

“He understands the game. He works to get deep position,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said back in January. “There's a lot of different ways he can hurt you with his ability to pass then obviously scoring at the rim. If you take something away from him, he'll spin off of you, go make a play and get a reverse layup or dunk. He's just a good player. He'd be a good player even if he wasn't 7-foot. Most guys that are 7-foot, that's their No. 1 strength is their ultimate size. He's cerebral, tough-minded and can rebound his position.”

Added Wisconsin coach Greg Gard in February: “Dickinson is a handful just because of his size and what he does technique-wise. He's very good with his feet, pins you, plays physical, keeps the ball high, goes at bodies, doesn't fade away from contact. … He's got great patience, great poise.”

Despite all the accolades and recognition, Dickinson’s name hasn’t appeared in prominent mock drafts. However, that can change if he's able to make an impression and improve his draft stock in pre-draft workouts.

Dickinson is the second Michigan underclassman to declare for the draft, joining Franz Wagner, a projected lottery pick who announced he was leaving Ann Arbor earlier this month. Chaundee Brown, Isaiah Livers and Mike Smith have also declared for the draft and passed on the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to the pandemic.

Should Dickinson stay in the draft, it would be a major loss for the Wolverines, considering they already must replace three starters and they have limited reliable depth at the center spot with backup Austin Davis moving on. Should Dickinson return for his sophomore season, he’ll solidify Michigan’s standing as a Big Ten contender and top-15 team heading into 2021-22.

When asked about his progression and the possibility of being a one-and-done player back in January, Dickinson said: “Me and Coach (Juwan) Howard have talked about it. Really, the plan was for me to try to get as good as I could this year and then hopefully progress throughout my years here or however long I'm here. Coach Howard, from Day 1, told me he plans on developing me into an NBA player.”

Dickinson will have until the NCAA’s July 7 withdrawal deadline — 10 days after the completion of the NBA Draft Combine, which will take place June 21-27 in Chicago — to decide whether he wants to keep his name in the draft or pull it out.

jhawkins@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @jamesbhawkins

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