Michigan Wolverines center Hunter Dickinson withdraws from NBA draft

Michigan center Hunter Dickinson is withdrawing from the NBA draft and returning to school for his sophomore season.

"I felt where teams had me going in the draft wasn't where I wanted to be," Dickinson told ESPN via text on Tuesday. "I am better than a mid-second round pick and teams told me if I come back another year they see me as a top 25 guy. I wasn't in a rush to leave college, I really enjoyed my time under Coach [Juwan] Howard and coming back for another year was always an option.

"Being able to experience a normal year for me was probably the second most important factor in coming back. A reason why I chose Michigan in the first place was because of the social aspect to the school. The football games, the campus, the community, Ann Arbor is a beautiful place and being able to experience it during a normal year is something I am looking forward to."

The NCAA deadline for players to withdraw from the NBA draft and maintain college eligibility is Tuesday.

"This was an incredibly difficult decision for me. I probably flipped-flopped five or more times on the decision," he said. "I mean this decision will affect the rest of my life so it was super hard which is why it took me so long. All the teams pretty much said the same thing. They want me to shoot how I shot in the workouts for an entire college basketball season. That's the biggest thing right now is showing everyone that I'm capable of stretching the floor. In addition to using my right hand more and showing the ability to switch on ball screens."

The 7-foot Dickinson was named to the All-Big Ten second team and was the conference's freshman of the year after an outstanding season in which he averaged 14.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 26 minutes per game, shooting 61% from the field.

Michigan won the Big Ten regular-season championship and was awarded a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, where it lost to UCLA in the Elite Eight. Dickinson says he hopes to reach or exceed those achievements this upcoming season.

"Under Coach Howard, Michigan fans should have nothing less than national championship aspirations. I didn't come back because I want to go to another Elite Eight. I have thought about that UCLA game every day since it happened and to be able to potentially come back and rewrite the story is something I very much want to do. I know it will be hard to repeat the kind of success we had last year, but I believe in the guys that we have."

Dickinson said the ability for college athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness played a role in his decision to return to Michigan, which is one of the biggest brands in college sports.

"The NIL stuff had a factor into my decision," he said. "Being able to make a little extra money and not have to worry about my financial situation while at school is definitely a pro. I'm glad the NCAA was able to do the right thing and allow students to make money off THEIR brands."

Despite losing projected lottery pick Franz Wagner and potential second-round picks Isaiah Livers and Chaundee Brown, Michigan is a projected top-10 preseason team after landing the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, with three McDonald's All-Americans in projected 2022 top-10 pick Caleb Houstan, Moussa Diabate and Kobe Bufkin, as well as Frankie Collins, the No. 36 recruit in the class, according to ESPN.

The Wolverines also added one of the most sought-after players in the NCAA transfer portal in Coastal Carolina's DeVante' Jones, the Sun Belt Player of the Year.

Jonathan Givony is an NBA draft expert and the founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a private scouting and analytics service utilized by NBA, NCAA and international teams.