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Over time, though, he became less certain of that — and in the end, Dickinson says, his status on NBA teams' draft boards, the ability to experience normal college life and the opportunity to compete for a national championship were among the factors that led to his decision to return for a sophomore season.
On Tuesday, the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year explained his choice to reporters hours after he released an announcement of his return. Dickinson is already back in Ann Arbor participating in light workouts.
“Once I really thought about it, I’ve always said from the start that I didn’t want to be a mid-to-late second round pick,” Dickinson said, “so I just wanted to stay true to myself and stay true to what I was saying from the beginning: That I wanted to be a first-round pick. Coming back, if that’s what I’ve got to do, then that’s what I’ve got to do.”
“I think just the combination of where NBA teams had me slotted to get drafted and then also the combination of being able to experience a normal year at Michigan, those two things were probably the biggest influencers for me and things that ultimately led to my decision to come back for another year.”
Dickinson declared for the draft on May 26. In June, he found out that he hadn't been invited to the NBA draft combine; at that point, Dickinson says, the decision of whether to remain in the draft or return to Michigan “went to 50-50.”
Dickinson participated in the G League Elite Camp but still didn't earn an invite to the combine.
“Then I just kept thinking about the opportunity for me here, for another year, to be able to experience the college experience that I didn’t get to experience last year,” Dickinson said. “That started to push it toward coming back for another year.”
Dickinson participated in workouts with two NBA teams: The Sacramento Kings and Oklahoma City Thunder. He says he was in contact with more NBA teams about setting up workouts after the G League camp, but by then, he was already leaning toward a return and declined to go through more workouts.
Dickinson, who was not commonly projected as a draft pick in mock drafts, said he received uniform feedback from NBA teams.
“They wanted to see me shoot the ball how I was shooting the ball in their workouts for an entire NCAA season,” Dickinson said. “They wanted to see more reps from me out there, just to continue to show the ability to switch on ball screens and stuff like that, and continue to use my right hand. Those would probably be the top three things that I heard.”
He'll have an opportunity to showcase his skills after a freshman season at U-M. Dickinson averaged 14.1 points and 7.6 rebounds and was named an Associated Press second team All-American. Dickinson is one of two returning starters from a team that won the Big Ten, earned a No. 1 seed and reached the Elite Eight. Given his performance last season, Dickinson will again be a focal point of Michigan's offense and defense.
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So, it was no surprise that Dickinson's teammates — who he says, along with the coaching staff, were completely supportive throughout the draft process — were happy to have him back in Ann Arbor.
“Obviously, they were pretty happy for me,” Dickinson said. “They enjoy having me around not only on the court but off the court. We’re going to have fun this year. I think that’s what everybody is expecting: For us to have a really fun and successful year.”
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Hunter Dickinson on why he's back with Michigan basketball