Michigan Basketball star enters transfer portal

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By Shawn Stewart

Photo From Robin Buckson, Detroit News

Michigan Basketball Center Hunter Dickinson entered the Transfer portal on Friday.

Hunter Dickinson considered leaving Michigan for the NBA after each of his first two seasons but decided to stay.

“Today is bittersweet,” coach Juwan Howard said in a statement released by the program a few hours after the news broke of Dickinson’s decision. “While Hunter Dickinson’s departure is unfortunate, there are so many reasons to be thankful for and celebrate. This young man has accomplished so much in his three seasons.”

As a freshman, he helped lead Michigan to a Big Ten regular-season title and the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight. After testing the NBA Draft waters, he opted to come back for his sophomore season and powered the Wolverines to a Sweet 16 appearance after a rocky regular season.

Last offseason, Dickinson passed on dipping his toes in the draft waters again and chose to return for a third year. But, this past season — despite Dickinson’s best efforts — Michigan missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015 during a disappointing 18-16 campaign that ended in the second round of the NIT.

Dickinson has been one of the best bigs in college basketball over the course of his three seasons at Michigan, where he averaged 17.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks and shot 57% from the field in 94 games. Along the way, he became the eighth Wolverine to record at least 1,500 points and 750 rebounds in a career. His 31 double-doubles, 787 rebounds and 1,617 points rank sixth, ninth and 12th, respectively, in program history.

The 7-foot-1 center has been the centerpiece on Michigan’s teams during his time in Ann Arbor. A two-time All-Big Ten first-team selection and consensus second-team All-American in 2021, he moved into the starting lineup six games into his freshman season and started every game since.

Dickinson led the team in scoring and rebounding each of the past three years. He averaged 18.5 points, nine rebounds and 1.8 blocks as a junior this past season, while shooting 56% from the field and a career-high 42.1% from 3-point range.

“With some of the adversity we’ve been through, Hunter has stayed the course. He’s never wavered, never one foot in, one foot out,” an emotional Howard said after the regular-season home finale this past season, when Dickinson hit a game-tying buzzer-beater that helped Michigan beat Wisconsin in overtime.

“He’s shown that he’s a true Michigan man. You’ve seen how he’s dialed in to represent what this team is all about. I’m all-in with Hunter, and I support him because I know where his heart is. He wants that attention to be away from his teammates and coaches, so he can be the bad guy. It’s unfair because Hunter, he’s really a lovable person. I love coaching him. I love being around him. I’ve learned a lot from him. He’s my family.”

Dickinson departure would be the third from the program this offseason — following sophomore wing Isaiah Barnes’ portal entry and Jett Howard’s draft declaration — and might not be the last. Sophomore guard Kobe Bufkin has his own NBA decision to make.

“Statistics aside, Hunter helped us to a Big Ten title, back-to-back Sweet 16s, as well as a memorable Elite Eight run. These are memories that will last a lifetime,” Juwan Howard said in a statement. “What I love most is he was an Academic All-Big Ten honoree, twice. That says so much about his character and maturity. As much as I tried to instill in him, he was a guide and inspiration for me. We wish Hunter and his family all the best in the future.”

The Wolverines are set to return center Tarris Reed Jr., who had a promising freshman campaign playing behind and with Dickinson off the bench, and will bring in big man Papa Kante as part of their 2023 recruiting class. But with Dickinson set to move on, Michigan is left behind with a huge hole to fill.

You can reach Shawn at shawn.stewart@stewartdeshawn

Twitter: @S4AStewart

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