Earlier this week, Hunter Dickinson, Jaelin Llewellyn and Jace Howard of the Michigan Wolverines’ men’s basketball team spoke at Big Ten Media Day. These three are the captains for this year’s team and had quite a bit to tell the media on Wednesday.
Here are some key takeaways:
On the trip through Europe
Jaelin Llewellyn: “I think it was a great experience, there’s a lot of great talent out there. You’re playing against professionals and they’re grown men and they got a lot of strength, but it was a good opportunity to see where we were at and start on the season.”
Hunter Dickinson: “I think it was really good for us, to be able to get some games so early on in the season, to give a measuring stick of where we are and where we need to be. I definitely think our first game in France gave us a little bit of a reality check. We still have a lot of work to do. Thankfully there’s still a good month or so before the season starts and there’s still time for us to fine tune some things. I think it was a great overall experience for us to grow together on and off the court.”
Jace Howard: “Backing off what they said, it gave us an opportunity to see where we were as a team. But also I think it put us ahead of schedule, especially (compared to) previous years, you’re in August playing against professional teams. You don’t play a team, at best, until late October for a scrimmage, and that gave us a two-month advance. I feel like it definitely gave us a gauge and now we know what we needed to do, and I feel like every day we’re going to practice and execute it. We have different things we want to address each day, whether it’s going over plays, ball screen defense. I feel like if we keep doing that, getting one percent better each day, it makes us excited for the season for sure.”
On Hunter’s decision to return to the University of Michigan
Dickinson: “I think it was a lot easier this year than last year. I feel like with this year, I really wasn’t done with the college as a whole yet. I feel like there was still more for me to do here. I really enjoy my time at Michigan, it makes it easy for me to come back. I really enjoy being at the University of Michigan and I feel like there’s more for me to do here.”
On how NIL played into his decision to come back
Dickinson hasn’t been shy about his feelings on NIL here at Michigan, and he said that he definitely was a factor in returning for his junior season.
“It definitely made it easier,” Dickinson said. “I think without NIL it definitely would have been a harder decision to make, but now with the opportunity to make money while you’re still in college, I think that definitely helps my decision and other guys like me.”
Dickinson also likes that the university has made progress as a whole, in terms of devoting more resources towards NIL to help players.
“I’d say we’ve grown a lot from the University of Michigan with NIL,” Dickinson said. “I think at first it was like they weren’t trying to embrace it. I think now that we’re a year into it, Michigan knows they have to embrace it more because it’s what college basketball and college athletics is at this point, so I think we’re doing a better job of adapting but there’s still a lot of room to grow.”
On how Dickinson’s role has changed and the expectations of him being a leader
Associate head coach Phil Martelli talked about this in a podcast over the summer that I highly recommend listening to on Defend The Block. It seems like Dickinson has really embraced being a leader and has learned a lot from his former teammates.
“My role has definitely changed a lot over my three years,” Dickinson said. “I came in as a freshman who just wanted to be a sponge and soak up all the information from my older teammates since we were a really experienced team my freshman year.
“Now that I’m a junior — now that I’m a leader for the team in some ways, I’m somebody that the younger guys look to for advice. Thankfully, I got guys like Jace and T-Will who have been here and know the system, but I also got guys like Jaelin and Joey (Baker) who are super old — they bring a lot of great experience and leadership. Jaelin and Joey have played a lot of college games, so they have a lot of experience that the younger guys will be able to look forward to and ask for help.”
On Llewellyn’s role and how he feels he fits into Michigan’s offense
I wrote about this with an advanced stats breakdown earlier this summer, but Llewellyn will be an integral part of what Michigan does this season as a grad student with a lot of college basketball under his belt.
“It’s been a smooth transition,” Llewellyn said. “I’ve played a lot of college basketball and basically I’ve been trying to get the flow of the offense and figure out how to gel with the guys on the team, and I think that it’s pretty smooth so far. Definitely playing overseas helped us because it gave me the chance to get out the first-time jitters of playing with a new team and stuff like that, but I think I’m fitting in well.”
Jace Howard on playing multiple positions
“Not much has changed,” Jace said regarding his positional flexibility. “Some days I’ll play the 4, some days I’ll play the 3, some days I’m even getting reps at the 2. For me, it’s about being ready when my name is called, just learning all the positions and plays and stuff like that. I feel like my role on the team is being a versatile guy, and it’s probably going to expand this year in terms of what they’re going to ask of me on the defensive end — guarding their best player and that being something I embrace. ”
Jace on playing with his brother, Jett Howard
“It’s been great, Jett’s a talented guy,” Jace said. “Great dude to be around. To be in a setting where we’re both playing for a school that we love and a school that we grew up watching is pretty surreal. He’s a boatload of talent, so being able to teach him the game and little pointers here — it’s really fun to pick each others brains and go at each other. We’ve been matched up a lot in practice, he knows my moves, I know his moves, so it’s been a great experience so far.”
Jace isn’t the only one excited about no longer being the only Howard on the roster. His dad, Juwan Howard, touched on Jace’s improvements and getting to coach both his sons earlier this summer.
The funniest answer from the day
Hunter Dickinson and Jace Howard were asked if they could have any other player in the Big Ten as a teammate, who would they want.
Without hesitation, and a laugh, both answered: “Terrance Shannon”
— Anthony Broome (@anthonytbroome) October 12, 2022
Click here for some context.