The Wolverine

August 2021

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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32 THE WOLVERINE AUGUST 2021 T here were some nervous mo- ments for Michigan basket- ball fans when it came to star cen- ter Hunter Dickinson and transfer guard DeVante' Jones — specifically, whether either would be on campus to play for the Wolverines in 2021-22. Both were adamant about testing the NBA waters and did, attending the June NBA G-League Elite Camp and playing well enough to earn some buzz. Dickinson averaged 10.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in his two live con- tests, while Jones scored a team-high 15 in his first game before cooling to four points (with five rebounds) in his second. Each worked out for a few NBA teams, too, before choosing in early July to announce a return to college ball. Dickinson, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year last season and a second- team All-American, admitted he flip-flopped several times before opt- ing to return for one more year. He decided in May to give the NBA a look after dropping some weight and working on his jumper, two areas the scouts wanted to see him improve. "I just thought it was the best deci- sion for me because of the exposure," Dickinson said from the G-League Camp. "I feel like it's really a win- win for me. Whatever I do, whether I go back or go professional, I think I'm in a great spot right now with being able to have both options open. I'm trying to do the best I can to see what path is best for me. "They like what I'm doing, like how I've progressed. They already know I have my back-to-the-basket game. They want to see me continue to expand my game. They like how I'm moving out there and are just impressed with me so far." He'll do his improving this year at Michigan, probably his last in a Wol- verines uniform. He said he wanted to be a guaranteed first- or early sec- ond-round draft pick to leave, but he's not there yet. Though he averaged 14.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game a year ago, Dickinson still has room to im- prove. He garnered a lot of attention in the form of double teams by the end of last season and struggled with some of the pressure. He also went 0 for 4 from long range and needs to develop his outside shot. "I think there's a lot more to his game," assistant coach Phil Martelli said. "I think his turnovers [2.3 per game] have to go way down. He's too skilled to have that many turn- overs. He has to shoot the jumper. Last year he pushed the jumper … he steered it, didn't really shoot it. But it's going to be about, 'Now, how are you going to guard him?' "As the year went on last year, people crowded him and challenged his ball skills. That was an anom- aly. He's a tremendous passer and should not have those kinds of turn- over numbers." Odds are we'll see plenty of im- provement in that area with head coach Juwan Howard working with him. Meanwhile, Jones — a newcomer from Coastal Carolina — has a chance to make an impact, penciled in as the likely starter at the point. Twenty-plus teams came after him when he announced his intentions to hit the transfer portal in winter, but Jones was more worried about 'fit' than he was 'first.' The Wolverines had a need, plenty to offer and a proven track record with transfer point guards — spe- cifically Columbia's Mike Smith, an outstanding addition last year — that gave him plenty of reason to listen to Howard and Co. He also saw an opportunity to win and win big, something that's only been bolstered during his first week on campus. "The talent level is amazing. I feel like this team doesn't have a ceil- ing. We'll be really good," Jones said, lauding the chemistry. "I just got here, and I feel like I've been with these guys for a long time." He and fifth-year senior guard Eli Brooks have already developed a rapport, he said. But he's coming in to be a team guy, with one goal in mind — to win. "Honestly, I just feel like I'll come in and do whatever is best for the team," Jones said. "I feel like I won't have to score as much, but if I do have to score the ball, I'll be able to score. I feel like I have a high IQ and I can pass the ball to more talented guys now, so that won't be a problem either." He proved that two years ago when he averaged 5.7 assists per game. He was more a scorer last year, averaging 19.3 points (with 2.9 as- sists), but he expects to step in just as Smith did last year and be that miss- ing piece to a championship team. "I just want to show that I can con- trol the team. Being a point guard and being able to lead the team, that's the big thing for me," he said. "Those are some questions scouts had about my game: Can I lead the team? Can I control the game? MICHIGAN BASKETBALL Hunter Dickinson, Transfer DeVante' Jones End NBA Pursuits And Will Play At U-M In 2021-22 Dickinson, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year last season and a second-team All- American, attended the June NBA G-League Elite Camp before choosing in early July to announce his return to college ball. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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