The biggest prize in the transfer portal came off the board Thursday, with former Michigan big man Hunter Dickinson announcing his commitment to Kansas. He chose the Jayhawks over a final list that also included Villanova, Maryland, Kentucky and Georgetown, and his decision could have single-handedly changed the 2023-24 season for any of those five programs.
The 7-foot-1 star was one of the most dominant centers in the country during his three seasons at Michigan, helping lead the Wolverines to a 1-seed and Elite Eight appearance in 2021 and a Sweet 16 run in 2022. He averaged 17.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in his time with the Wolverines, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2021 and 2023.
What type of impact will he make in Lawrence — and the sport as a whole — next season? Our men’s college basketball experts break it down.
How does Dickinson fit into the Kansas lineup?
After losing Jalen Wilson and Gradey Dick to the NBA, Bill Self hit the reboot button for next season by adding Texas transfer Arterio Morris, once a coveted recruit, and Nicolas Timberlake, a Towson transfer who made nearly 42% of his 3-point attempts last season. Now, he gets Dickinson, a big man who made 42% of his 3-point attempts last season. Dickinson’s presence will allow Self to have a dominant big man who makes life easier on the strong backcourt around him, including veteran Dajuan Harris Jr.
With K.J. Adams Jr. set for a breakout season, Kansas will have a versatile lineup that can use five players on the perimeter and create all kinds of matchup hell for opponents. And Ernest Udeh Jr., a five-star recruit in last year’s class, is now a strong backup in the rotation. Self has allowed his bigs to play to their potential and employ their full skill set and he’ll do the same for Dickinson, who will want to do more in space than he did at Michigan. This is an incredible boost for a Kansas team that found the perfect addition in Dickinson. He has to be a more consistent defender for this group, though, in a Big 12 full of skilled playmakers who will challenge him at the rim. But Dickinson makes this group one of the most imposing national title contenders. — Myron Medcalf
The decision vaults Kansas up most preseason rankings. What will it take to make the Jayhawks the definitive preseason No. 1 team?
I think they’re squarely in the conversation now. Dickinson has one of the best pass-first point guards in the country in Dajuan Harris, and Bill Self can go back to running more of the high-low offense that made him so successful, with Dickinson and returning starter K.J. Adams. Morris and Timberlake both bring much-needed perimeter punch in different ways: the former is more aggressive and dynamic with the ball in his hands, while the latter is a knockdown outside shooter. And the Jayhawks also have a top-10 recruiting class entering the program. As it stands, Kansas is a top-five team, at worst, entering the season.
What would push the Jayhawks over the top is getting top-10 recruit Mackenzie Mgbako, who recently decommitted from Duke. Mgbako recently visited Kansas, and while schools such as Indiana, St. John’s and Louisville are also in the mix, he’s the type of versatile forward who would complete this team. — Jeff Borzello
Where does Bill Self’s squad fall in Bracketology now?
Kansas entered the Hunter Dickinson sweepstakes as a projected 3-seed for the 2024 NCAA tournament. His addition clearly lifts the Jayhawks a full seed line — at worst. As we continue to evaluate the top teams for next year, significant change is still possible among the rosters of UConn, Purdue, Michigan State, Creighton and others. It’s not hard to foresee Kansas as a preseason No. 1 seed when all is said and done, however. Given that Bill Self has been a top seed way more often than any other active coach, it would be no surprise. — Joe Lunardi