Hunter Dickinson had one foot out the door when he originally declared for the 2021 NBA Draft, but the feedback he received ultimately led him to return to the Michigan Wolverines. Outside of his actual skill-set and the development that still needs to take place, there was a big factor that drove his decision.
Michigan’s loss to UCLA in the Elite Eight left a bad taste in his mouth. The path had been cleared for the Wolverines to make a trip to the Final Four, but they fell to the Bruins by a score of 51-49. Dickinson told the media on Tuesday evening that he still thinks about it.
“That was something that, obviously—I think I said it in one of the interviews, the NCAA loss was something I still can’t live down to this day,” he said. “Usually, it’s at night when I start thinking about the game and replaying the key moments in that game. It’s something I’ll never be able to get down. For me, to be able to rewrite that loss and have the opportunity to have come back and obtain our original goal of winning a national championship is something that I came back for. I didn’t come back for more personal accolades, I wanted to win as a team this year.”
His teammates wanted the opportunity to re-write that wrong with him as well. Dickinson said that the reception he received upon his announcement was the start of what they expect to be a successful season.
“Obviously, they were happy for me,” he said. “I’m pretty well-liked throughout the locker room. They enjoy having me around not only on the court but off the court. We’re going to have a lot of fun this year. I think that’s what everybody is expecting, fun and successful year this year.”
Michigan’s success next season may very well come down to Dickinson’s development as a prospect, but also how quickly the No. 1 recruiting class in the country can make an impact and get up to speed. So far, he likes what he has seen.
“They’re pretty good, they’re on their way,” Dickinson said. “Obviously, there’s a learning curve that they have to overcome. Me, Terrance, Zeb and Jace had to overcome it last year. They’re on their way. Us returners are trying to help out as much as we can. The coaching staff is obviously doing the best they can to get them coming along as fast as possible. We have time. They’re going to come eventually, they’re going to get it eventually. We’re taking our time with them, we’re not in a rush. We have a lot of talent and we’ve got some more talent coming in a couple of weeks (in Caleb Houstan). We like where we are.”
Michigan is currently going through summer practices and workouts before camp starts sometime in the fall. The season typically opens around the second week of November.
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