by J.T. Toth
Photo courtesy of AP News.
At Draft Nation, the NBA draft talk never ends. We will get you ready for the 2024 draft with player profiles and mock drafts so you can see who your favorite team may add to their roster.
Today’s Spotlight - Kansas, Center, Hunter Dickinson
Name- Hunter Dickinson
HT/WT- 7’2” 260 lbs.
Home – Alexandria, VA
Hunter Dickinson attended DeMatha Catholic High School in Maryland. During his sophomore year, he helped the team capture its first Washington Catholic Athletic Conference Championship since 2011. In his senior season, he was named All-MET Player of the Year and the Gatorade Maryland Player of the Year. As a senior, Dickinson averaged 18.1 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.1 blocks per game.
Dickinson was a consensus 4-star recruit and the no. 2 overall recruit from Maryland. He committed to play college basketball at Michigan over other offers from Duke, Florida State and Notre Dame.
His freshman season at Michigan brought a slew of accolades. He was named a second team consensus All-American, Big Ten Freshman of the Year and second team All-Big Ten. He led the Wolverines in scoring (14.1) and rebounding (7.4).
Dickinson continued getting better during his sophomore campaign and led Michigan in scoring once again, averaging 18.6 points per contest and hauling in 8.6 rebounds. He was named an All-Big 10 first team selection after his stellar season.
He finished 4th in the conference in scoring during the 2022-2023 season with 18.5 points per game and set a career high with his 9.0 rebounds per game. He was once again named to the All-Big Ten first team squad. After the season, Dickinson entered the NCAA transfer portal and transferred to Kansas over offers from Villanova, Kentucky, Maryland and Georgetown.
Through his first 10 games with Kansas in 2023, Dickinson is on pace to shatter career highs in points and rebounds per game. He has averaged 19.4 points and 12.6 rebounds a game for the 9-1 Jayhawks and there have been talks of him being a leading candidate for Player of the Year honors.
Dickinson is a strong center who establishes himself early in games underneath and is tough to box and move out of the paint. He is a solid finisher from in close and around the basket and has a soft touch off the glass. One of the things that he has improved on is being able to stretch his offense to behind the 3-point arc. He has improved his shooting percentage each of the last 3 years (32.8%, 42.1% and 57.9% in 2023).
One of his best attributes is that he sets excellent screens and gives his teammates offensive opportunities by doing so. His rebounding is top of the class and he understands positioning and angles. He doesn’t commit careless fouls and for the most part does an effective job of getting the ball in the right hands.
On the downside, Dickinson is only an average athlete at best, especially when comparing him to NBA talent. He struggles to defend in space and with the NBA less dependent on big-post centers, he will have to learn to stretch his defense to the perimeter at times. He passes up a lot of outside shot opportunities and while he’s gotten better at this, it is still a work in progress. He will give up an open shot to try and drive or make an unnecessary pass. He can be turnover prone against a quicker opponents and needs to showcase this year at Kansas that he can be productive away from the basket. The NBA does not favor the traditional college centers anymore.
Draft 412 is stunned at how close Hunter Dickinson’s game looks to Sacramento Kings' Domantas Sabonis. Besides looking like each other, they are both lefty and have above average rebounding skills that should translate to the NBA. Sabonis is shorter at 6’10” but he supplies the skills that Dickinson needs to work towards. Sabonis has transformed his game in the NBA, becoming a center who can create his own shots off the dribble and hit shots from anywhere around the arch. Draft 412 is not 100 % sure that Dickinson will ever be able to reach that tier of athleticism but can still become a big part of a starting 5 in the NBA.
Reluctant to shoot outside
Defense against faster opponents
Average athlete at best
Dickinson transferred to Kansas to be a part of an athletic offense and so far, he has raised his game up. His outside shooting is coming along, and he is still dominating on the boards. Centers like Dickinson are not high on NBA teams' boards due to how fast the NBA has become. If he can continue to grow with his shooting and improve his athleticism a tad, he can be a fixture on an NBA team. He is one of those college players who could win Player of the Year and not be selected to round 2.
Draft 412 Draft Prediction - Early Round 2