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Hunter Dickinson is ready to be a leader

The junior has grown into this role.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament Second Round Indianapolis- Michigan at Tennessee Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Hunter Dickinson is a lot of things: He’s a junior in college, he’s an All-American center for the Michigan Wolverines, and now he’s a podcaster. But one thing he hasn’t really been yet at the University of Michigan is a leader.

As Dickinson mentioned at Big Ten Media Days last week, he’s come a long way since his junior season, and he’s thankful to have some older teammates to help him from a leadership standpoint.

“My role has definitely changed a lot over my three years,” Dickinson said. “I came in as a freshman who just wanted to be a sponge and soak up all the information from my older teammates since we were a really experienced team my freshman year.

“Now that I’m a junior — now that I’m a leader for the team in some ways, I’m somebody that the younger guys look to for advice. Thankfully, I got guys like Jace and T-Will who have been here and know the system, but I also got guys like Jaelin and Joey (Baker) who are super old — they bring a lot of great experience and leadership. Jaelin and Joey have played a lot of college games, so they have a lot of experience that the younger guys will be able to look forward to and ask for help.”

Dickinson continued by speaking on the jerseys that hang in Crisler and how he, like those before him, want to leave a legacy.

“When we work out at Crisler, I always see the jerseys that are up there. So that’s obviously motivation for me, especially coming back for my third year,” he said. “That legacy part is definitely something I want to accomplish, and hopefully when I’m done at the University of Michigan, hopefully that’s something I’m able to achieve.”

The biggest way he has improved as a leader is with his voice. As associate head coach Phil Martelli said on the Defend The Block podcast earlier this summer, he’s noticed a transformation from Dickinson being a jokester to becoming a key leader.

“On the floor, he has taken on a much more vocal role,” Martelli said. “With Hunter since last spring, what I have been amazed at is the vocal approach he’s taken. He had a vocal approach the last two years, but it was comedic. He wanted to be a heel, he wanted you to say ‘wait, he said what?’ Once he was settled in and knew he was coming back, he’s been a guy where you see that he’s going to say it, so the coaches can step back. ‘This is what they’ll want,’ and he’ll direct it to his teammates.”

Dickinson also took some time to reflect on how his role has changed over the years. He credits a lot of former teammates for helping to get to this point, specifically Eli Brooks, Mike Smith, Chaundee Brown, Isaiah Livers and Austin Davis.

“Guys that just came here before me and tried to give me all their knowledge, I took a lot from that last year,” Dickinson said. “This year, I feel like now that’s it’s my turn to try and lead the younger guys. I’ve tried to do a good job of just talking as much as I can and try to be that vocal leader that coach Howard wants me to be.”

Dickinson and Martelli aren’t the only ones who have noticed these changes from the big man. Head coach Juwan Howard noted how much he’s love seen Dickinson guiding the freshmen.

“Hunter came in very humble and allowed his staff to coach and also allowed his teammates to help him grow,” Howard said. “He’s taken what’s learned from them and he’s used that with others like Jett Howard, Duggy McDaniel, Tarris Reed Jr., Gregg Glenn. And it’s beautiful to see how Hunter has grown before my eyes. His first year, he was like a fish out of water trying to figure it out. And then now, he’s that guy that knows the culture, knows what the culture is asking (from him), knows the ins and outs of the univsersity. He’s embraced being a college student, and he’s been great with teaching the new freshman.”