Basketball Insider – Is it time to get optimistic about Hunter Dickinson returning to Michigan?

Every week during the college basketball season, and every other week during the offseason former Michigan Basketball standout Tim McCormick joins TMI’s Sam Webb for a podcast called ‘The Michigan Basketball Insider.’ Each show offers a deep dive into the X’s & O’s and statistical analysis from Michigan’s games, commentary on college basketball in the Big Ten and beyond, and interviews with subjects from Tim’s vast array of contacts.

McCormick spent 10 seasons playing in the NBA after being the no. 12 pick in the 1984 draft. Since completing his pro career he has worked as a consultant with NBA players for the last two decades teaching strategies to improve performance and achieve greatness. Additionally, he runs the NBA Players Association’s Top 100 Basketball Camp for the nation’s best high school basketball prospects. Tim also provides color analysis as a broadcaster for ESPN’s college basketball coverage and Fox Sports Detroit’s Detroit Pistons coverage.

On this week’s edition of The Michigan Basketball Insider Tim and Sam explain why rumors about juwan howard being a candidate for Los Angeles Lakers head coaching job are rapidly dying. Attention then turns to rising optimism within the program about Hunter Dickinson’s return, and the now distinct possibility Moussa Diabate and Caleb Houston will return too. The podcast closes with a discussion about how the timeline for the trio’s decisions impact the Wolverines’ portal pursuits.

In the excerpt below Tim shares why his optimism about Dickinson returning for his junior campaign has been rising for a while now.

Tim McCormick: “I’ve really thought all along that Hunter would return. And that was even after…. before the Air Force football game we talked, and Hunter told me, ‘I’m going to leave… I’m going to the NBA after this year.’ And I thought, ‘cool, that’s great. I’m anxious to see how this plays out.’ But I had a lot of questions. But I think that Hunter is really a smart guy. He’s got some money in his pocket through an NIL. I do not know what his deal is, but life is good for him. He’s literally the big man on campus. And he’s very popular, he’s having fun, he’s got a car, and I think that he’s the type of guy who can really appreciate the campus environment. I think back to my college experience, and it was a lot of fun. The NBA was thrilling, but there’s no doubt it was a job. It was an entirely different feel. And the performance pressures in the NBA are just incredible. So I think that Hunter knows that long term this is good for him. And I was also thinking about this… and bear with me, because you’re gonna roll your eyes for a second. But I think that Hunter … his advantage of him by coming back to school long term is I think he can become a little bit like Ralph Sampson and patrick ewing and David Robinson and Alonzo Mourning. NOT that caliber of player in terms of being a future Hall of Famer, but by being the best center in all of college basketball. And the reason that’s important is if you stay in college for three or four years, you let the fans fall in love with you. They get to know you. Some of the fans… they cheer against you, but your home crowd loves you to death. And what happens along the way is you win titles, you dominate, you grow your game, and maybe most important… and I’m glad you brought up Luka… you become a legend. And that’s the great thing that Hunter has a chance to do. And Sam, when I broadcast the Pistons pregame and postgame show, I’m always amazed at when Luka comes in the game… he did a nice job this year… Luka played 30 games in the NBA and he had three games where I have scored 20 points. I did a good job. But I think that when Luka comes in the game for the Pistons, the crowd cheers the loudest for him of anybody on their team other than Cade Cunningham. They know him! And how do they know him? Well, these are Big 10 fans who follow Michigan and Michigan State, and they’ve all seen Luka play in college. So, the familiarity is there. And he’s a lot like Hunter Dickinson. He’s not as big, but he’s a force inside. He is really skilled, he’s improving, and I think Hunter will continue to move in that direction. And those guys are friends. And I know that they’ve talked… it’s not easy the way Luka is up and then down. He’s on the G league (team) tonight and tomorrow he is playing for the Pistons. And he loves to play, so that’s great… but that’s why I think that it might be a good thing for Hunter Dickinson to try to become patrick ewing and dominate college basketball for four years. And then I think he’ll get his chance to play in the league for sure.

Sam Webb: “I wonder if this is a phenomenon that we’ll see with big guys. Making the decision to play the long game… and I’m talking about big guys like Hunter that aren’t the super athletic, run-jump guys. There’s something (the scouts are knocking). Maybe they aren’t quite tall enough, or they don’t seem to be as twitchy as the switch-everything big man that the NBA sort of emphasizes. But you look around… Armando Baccot is coming back to college. There is huge talk out there oscar tshiebwe is gonna come back. Now he’s gonna test the draft process, but Tim, you’re talking about the National Player of the Year seriously contemplating (a return). Kentucky people say he’s leaning towards coming back to college. It gets to what you’re talking about building up that legendary, long play status, and NIL opportunities. And it sounds like some things are being worked out for Tshiebwe so he can take advantage of that too. You can maximize some earning potential right now. Those guys… one, two, maybe all of them would be G League, out the gate? Why not stay, get some money, build your legendary status, and still take that same shot at the NBA once your eligibility is up?”

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