Busting Brackets

Kansas Basketball: Impact of landing Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson

Feb 6, 2023; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Kansas Jayhawks head coach Bill Self reacts to play against the Texas Longhorns during the first half at Allen Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 6, 2023; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Kansas Jayhawks head coach Bill Self reacts to play against the Texas Longhorns during the first half at Allen Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /
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Kansas Basketball
Kansas Basketball (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

On Thursday afternoon, former Michigan star Hunter Dickinson announced that he decided to transfer to Kansas for his fourth year of college basketball. The 7’1” 260 lb senior chose Kansas over Villanova, Maryland, Kentucky, and Georgetown. Dickinson was the consensus top player in the transfer portal.

He announced his decision with a video on Twitter and Instagram, which featured him sharing his choice with Kansas coach Bill Self.

Here are three takeaways from Dickinson’s decision and the saga of his recruitment.

1. Bill Self has his big man

Entering this past season, the reigning National Champion Kansas Jayhawks were without four of their top five scorers from 2021-22. Although a second-round exit in this year’s NCAA Tournament was a disappointment, it was still a very successful season for the Jayhawks. Kansas finished with a 28-8 record, won 17 Quad 1 Games, and earned a No. 1 seed in the dance

Bill Self’s coaching job this past season might have been one of his most impressive across his entire career. Not only did he withstand losing talents like Christian Braun and Ochai Agbaji, but his roster forced him into playing a different style of ball. Kansas lacked depth (345th in the nation with 10.89 bench points per game) and had to rely on a small-ball lineup. While starting five-man KJ Adams did an awesome job, the 6’7″ 225 lb sophomore isn’t the type of big man Self usually has at his disposal.

Self did however have plenty of talent on the perimeter in Jalen Wilson, Gradey Dick, Kevin McCullar, and Dajuan Harris. While Adams is a high-level athlete and great defender, he’s not a back-to-the-basket post scorer.

That all changed with the arrival of Hunter Dickinson from Michigan. Dickinson has been a dominant force down low during each of his three seasons of college basketball. In 2022-23, he averaged 18.5 points per game, 9.0 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks on 56.0 FG% /42.1 3P% /73 FT%  splits.

The Wolverines were very underwhelming this past season, failing to reach the NCAA Tournament. This disappointment followed up an Elite Eight (which should’ve been a Final Four) appearance in 2021 and a Sweet 16 appearance as an 11-seed in 2022. Despite his team’s struggles, Dickinson individually was fantastic, putting up big numbers on his way to second-team All-Conference honors.

Michigan was on the bubble at the end of the season but secured their fate as an NIT team after losing three straight games at the beginning of March. Maybe Dickinson would’ve hit the portal no matter what, but averaging 26.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 4.3 blocks across those three losses definitely could’ve pushed him over the edge. He wants to be part of a winning program, and Michigan failed him last season.

Dickinson has proven that he is a player that teams can play through, and having an elite big man is a powerful tool for Bill Self to have at his disposal. It’s customary for Self to have a big bruiser that is a threat to score on the block, and he’s had one almost every year that I can remember. Guys like Perry Ellis, Landen Lucas, Udoka Azubuike, and David McCormack were all tremendous players for Kansas. As good as those guys were, Dickinson is definitely better than all of them.

Self will be able to maximize Dickinson’s talent by consistently getting him the ball where he likes it down low. Plus, he’ll be surrounded by more talent on this Kansas roster, which could unlock new heights for him.

This is an extremely high-level pairing of a head coach and an experienced, star big man. The sky is a limit for what these two can accomplish next season. Self and Dickinson share the same goal of winning a National Championship, and they both might just be exactly what the other needs.