- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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In 2011, when Hunter Mickelson committed to John Pelphrey at Arkansas, he was highly regarded. He was the No. 8-ranked power forward in the class, the No. 55-ranked overall player, and a key part of the recruiting class that was supposed to save Pelphrey's job. It didn't. When Mike Anderson took over, there was some question where Mickelson would fit within "40 Minutes of Hell," whether he was the type of player that could really excel in Anderson's run-and-gun system.
He didn't and now he's transferring. And, to paraphase the immortal words of Jon Lovitz in "The Wedding Singer," Kansas is reaping the benefits.
Mickelson announced his decision to transfer to Lawrence Thursday afternoon, ending a pretty brief examination period during which he considered a handful of schools, Butler most seriously. But you can't fault the decision either way, and you have to think Mickelson could be a really nice addition for the Jayhawks.
Sure, he averaged just 5.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 16.6 minutes a game last season, with an offensive rating of just 97.0 and decent, but unspectacular, rebounding rates on both ends. Those aren't high-impact, elite-transfer type numbers. But it's entirely possible that Mickelson was simply lost on a team and in a style of play that didn't fit him. That was the consensus during his departure which was amicable as it gets, by all accounts). He could still be scratching the surface. Oh, and in case you hadn't noticed, Bill Self's staff at Kansas tends to make players better. Like, every player.
And even if none of that is true, Mickelson is a good defender and a great shot-blocker. He finished with a 13.5 percent block rate as a freshman, which took a dive last season (to a still-very-respective 8.2 percent); he once went 20 games in a row with at least one blocked shot. Even if that's all you get from him, fine, right? Plenty of coaches would take it.
Memphis forward Tarik Black has taken over the transfer circuit this season, because everyone wants a big, physical, veteran big. If Black is desirable enough to earn the affections of the nation's best, by 2013-14 Mickelson might just be the steal of the summer.