Hunter Dickinson Is Hearing The NBA Chatter
"How long are we going to be able to keep this guy if he continues to play like this?"
Michigan fans everywhere have been saying the same thing after watching freshman center Hunter Dickinson tear up the competition, earning four straight Big Ten freshman of the week awards and now averaging 16.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.
Eyes opened even more when he stepped out and hit a pair of 12-foot jump shots in the Wolverines' win over Northwestern, showing range most knew he had but hadn't seen yet.
“Those two jumpers definitely gave me a confidence boost,” Dickinson said. “Those were my two first jumpers of my career at Michigan, so I was very relieved when they finally went down. I think I’m just going to try to take what the defense gives me. I’m not going to really try to force anything out there.
“Coach Howard has given me the green light within the offense to shoot whatever shots I’m comfortable with. As long as it’s within the offense, it’s a good flow, I think I’ll take some more.”
He's even attempted a couple of triples, and he'll likely take more when he becomes more comfortable.
For now, though, he's living inside and dominating the post with his size and his moves. He still hasn't faced some of the league's better big men or defenses — Iowa's Luka Garza comes to mind, as does Illinois' Kofi Cockburn.
Tonight's matchup with Minnesota seven-footer Liam Roberts, the Big Ten Player of the Week, figures to be the first big test.
“I’m excited to play against another really good big man, especially in conference,” Dickinson said. “I think this will be a good test for me and the rest of the team to see how we act after a nice win over a ranked opponent. We’d like to come out and play really well and show the rest of the country that we’re for real.
"I think coach Howard and the rest of the coaching staff will put a good game plan for me and the rest of the team to go against them.”
Dickinson came to U-M for that and to be developed, pointing to Howard and telling him he was going to be the guy who prepared him. So far, both are looking really good. Dickinson isn't the prototypical NBA big man, but there's a place for someone with his post moves and IQ, especially if he continues to develop his jumper.
That will come ... in time. Dickinson doesn't seem to be in any rush to leave, excited at what's going on in Ann Arbor.
“Me and coach Howard have talked about it,” he admitted. “Really, the plan for me was to try and 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 one told me he plans on developing me into an NBA player, so it wasn’t a shock for anybody that the news has been swirling. I’m not too worried about it. I’m pretty happy with where I’m at right now. I like my teammates. I’m just really focused on trying to win as many games as possible this year and hopefully win a national championship.”
Not as long a shot as anyone might have thought at the beginning of the year, thanks in large part to Dickinson's quick development.
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