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How Hunter Dickinson is turning former fans into enemies

Michigan fans should be officially done with Hunter Dickinson, if they weren’t already.

Purdue Fort Wayne v Michigan Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

When Hunter Dickinson announced that he was transferring from the Michigan Wolverines, I told myself that I would be rooting for him. I was as shocked as anyone that the team’s leading scorer and face of the franchise would be heading elsewhere. I assumed his decision to transfer was to due what could be a rebuilding year for the Michigan program with Jett Howard and Kobe Bufkin both heading to the NBA Draft.

Dickinson was a Michigan man. He wore the maize and blue with a lot of pride, was active on social media with fans, attended football games at The Big House, and actively rooted for several other teams across the athletic department. Of course, any fan was going to love him even if the basketball team was not getting it done.

Even when he took a full month to make a decision about where he would go next, and stayed radio silent about why he left Michigan during that time, I still found myself happy to see him heading to a strong program like Kansas. My wife’s family is from Overland Park, my mother-in-law attended KU and they are avid Jayhawks fans, so I thought it was the perfect way for me to continue to root for him.

When he finally sat down with ESPN to explain his decision, I even had sympathy for him after reading this excerpt:

Dickinson said leaving Michigan was still one of the hardest decisions he’s ever made. He “cried like a baby” when he told head coach Juwan Howard in late March that Michigan’s disappointing season (which ended in a second-round NIT loss) was wearing on him and that he wanted to go elsewhere to finish his college career.

It seemed as though Dickinson still respected Michigan, Juwan Howard, and the program. However, he just needed a change of scenery, more NIL money (which, admittedly, Michigan needs to figure out), and a chance at a National Championship.

But for a guy who left the team just a couple of months ago, it sure seems that he can’t stop chirping spiteful comments at all of the above. In the last two and a half weeks, he’s taken two digs at the Michigan program and the people who reside in the Mitten state.

On the Rock Chalk Unplugged podcast earlier this month, Dickinson compared Bill Self’s practices to Juwan Howard’s with some disdain towards the latter.

“They’re definitely a little bit harder than I expected... (The Kansas practices) were definitely harder than Michigan, especially at this point. I mean, Michigan wouldn’t even get to campus until like July 1. So, we have way more of a head start here.”

On the same podcast, Dickinson then voiced his opinion about the people from Michigan:

“But just walking around, the people are super, super welcoming. Super nice. Definitely get those Midwest vibes. I feel like at Michigan, they weren’t as nice. They were nice people but not as nice. I feel like Michigan is like a fake Midwest. Kansas is actually like a Midwest town. I loved my time in Michigan, but the people here at Kansas are especially nice.”

I just don’t understand what Hunter is trying to do here. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that Dickinson had a problem with the way things were run in Ann Arbor and this “love” that he has for the program and the people are not as strong as originally thought now that he is off at Kansas.

Some of the fans took to social media as a response:

It’s coming off to me like he’s riding this high and mighty play that he thinks that everything was going against him in his time here instead of taking responsibility for being a part of the problem. He’s doing what he does best and becoming the villain of a fanbase that probably would have cheered him on at his next destination.

Let’s face it, Michigan had the talent to be a tournament team and a contender in the Big Ten last season. Two first-round draft picks and an All-American 7-foot center weren’t good enough to even make the NCAA Tournament. That’s a complete joke and part of that does fall on the coaching staff.

But to assume that as a player you have little responsibility for it is laughable. Michigan ran their offense through Dickinson in the post. He led the team in shots, free throw attempts, points, rebounds, and turnovers with a usage rate of 27.5%. It’s an absurdity to look at those numbers and essentially wipe yourself clean of the problems that ensued on the court.

Or how about the long stretches of scoring droughts this team would go on late in games? Maybe the team’s leading scorer would be important to putting the ball in the hoop...

Dickinson also posed a huge defensive liability for the Wolverines. Teams got him in space along the perimeter off pick-n-rolls routinely and he was not quick enough to recover and help at the rim. Any kind of defending outside of the paint made him a massive liability.

Speaking of which, when did Hunter ever have a solid defensive game against another big man with prowess? Just look at these numbers:

  • Nov. 1, 2021 - Arizona’s Christain Koloko: 22 points, 7 rebounds, 8-13 shooting
  • Dec. 1, 2021 - North Carolina’s Armando Bacot: 11 points, 14 rebounds, 5-10 shooting
  • Feb. 2, 2022 - Ohio State’s E.J. Lidell: 28 points, 5 rebounds, 8-17 shooting
  • Feb. 5, 2022 - Purdue’s Trevion Williams: 19 points, 8 rebounds, 7-8 shooting
  • Feb. 27, 2022 - Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn: 27 points, 7 rebounds, 11-15 shooting
  • Mar. 3, 2022 - Iowa’s Keegan Murray: 23 points, 7 rebounds, 7-9 shooting
  • 2022 Big Ten Tournament - Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis: 24 points, 8 rebounds, 10-17 shooting
  • Dec. 4, 2022 - Kentucky’s Oscar Tscheibwe: 13 points, 14 rebounds, 5-10 shooting
  • Dec. 21, 2022 - North Carolina’s Armando Bacot: 26 points, 5 rebounds, 11-15 shooting
  • Jan. 26, 2023 - Purdue’s Zach Edey: 19 points, 9 rebounds, 9-16 shooting
  • Feb. 11, 2023 - Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis: 28 points, 11 rebounds, 11-23 shooting
  • Mar. 5, 2023 - Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis: 27 points, 9 rebounds, 10-21 shooting

Each of these games was a loss for the Wolverines. That allotment accounts for 12 of Michigan’s 30 losses over the past two seasons and all of them were pretty important battles either in-conference or a premium non-conference opponent. So yeah, Hunter’s responsible for some of the downfall of this program.

Make no mistake, the Michigan basketball team is far worse off without him. Howard is going to be on the hot seat if he can’t turn things around this season, and the roster is a group of misfits that will have an uphill battle in the Big Ten. There’s a chance that they’re putting themselves in a hole that could take years to get out of.

So hearing these jabs from Dickinson, maybe the last All-American to be a part of a winning team in Ann Arbor for a period of time, hurts even more. My fear is that the jabs won’t stop coming. Practice has just begun in Lawrence, and more insults could come as he’s going to continue to be asked about comparisons between the two programs.

We know Dickinson loves being the villain and for some reason, he’s decided that he wants to turn on the few people that actually loved him as a player and person for the last few years. Hopefully, he has a little more class about this as we approach the season. Because right now, it’s sad watching how many people that would have rooted him on turn the other way.


Are you rooting for Hunter Dickinson at Kansas?

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