Originally published April 25, 2013 at 02:33p.m., updated April 26, 2013 at 12:07a.m.

6-foot-10 Arkansas transfer Hunter Mickelson picks KU

Big man says he's fan of KU tradition

Kentucky's Terrence Jones, right, puts up a shot under pressure from Arkansas' Hunter Mickelson (21) and Marvell Waithe during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012.

Kentucky's Terrence Jones, right, puts up a shot under pressure from Arkansas' Hunter Mickelson (21) and Marvell Waithe during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012.



AP Photo/James Crisp

Kentucky's Terrence Jones, right, puts up a shot under pressure from Arkansas' Hunter Mickelson (21) and Marvell Waithe during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012.

A native of Jonesboro, Ark., Hunter Mickelson grew up a fan of the outdoors and of the University of Arkansas Razorbacks.

“Hunting, fishing, playing basketball and going to school ... that’s about all I’ve been doing since I’ve been here,” said the 6-foot-10, 235-pound sophomore power forward, who on Thursday announced his decision to transfer from Arkansas to Kansas University for the final two years of his college basketball career.

Mickelson, who broke Arkansas’ freshman shot-block record (72) two seasons ago, averaged 5.4 points and 3.5 rebounds his sophomore season (16.6 minutes/game), while never really adjusting to coach Mike Anderson’s pressing style of play.

“He is a great coach. It probably is a good style for big men, but it just wasn’t for me,” said Mickelson, who, as’s No. 100-rated player in the high school recruiting Class of 2011, chose John Pelphrey’s program over KU, Florida, Baylor, Arizona, Kentucky and 19 others who offered scholarships. Pelphrey was fired before Mickelson’s freshman year.

“KU was my No. 1 choice out of (Jonesboro Westside) high school, but he is a homestate kid and wanted to play for the Razorbacks. We gave that a try even though we knew the system and style probably wasn’t the best one for him,” said Mickelson’s dad, Darien.

“KU is a good fit with the type of players he (Bill Self) turns out as far as the Cole Aldriches and Jeff Witheys,” Darien added. “The storied tradition of KU basketball … it is like Notre Dame football. It doesn’t get any better than that. The biggest factor is, KU really recruits itself, but just being on the court with three or four other high-quality talented kids makes everybody better. You can’t have the success and history and expectations maintained that many years by not doing it right.”

Mickelson, who will practice but not play in games next season in accordance with NCAA rules, chose KU as a transfer destination over finalist Butler. He and his dad have never been to Lawrence.

“Just because of the tradition they have ... the opportunity to get to play in a national championship or play deep in the tournament ... that’s all I wanted,” said Hunter Mickelson. His career high in points is 16 vs. Robert Morris and rebounds 13 vs. Northwestern State.

“They always play tough. They have great home games, great road trips. They’ve won a bunch of conference titles back to back. I wanted to be part of that.”

“It happened fairly quick,” Hunter added. “We talked about it a little while, me and my family, discussed the options and decided Kansas was the best place.”

Mickelson said his strength right now is defense. He will work on “my post presence, I imagine, being consistent from inside and outside, getting my quickness more than it is.”

He trusts KU coach Bill Self to help him in all areas.

“He is really smart, knows how to play the game, how to handle things. I’m definitely ready to go to work and be a part of it,” Mickelson said of Self.

His previous coach, Anderson, recently said: “Hunter is a fine young man who represents the Razorbacks well both on and off the court. He has improved as a player during his two years at Arkansas, and I wish him the best as he pursues his degree and basketball career elsewhere.”

Mickelson will be on scholarship during his red-shirt season, meaning KU has two scholarships left to give this spring. KU is recruiting former Memphis forward Tarik Black and has reportedly shown interest in former Alabama guard Trevor Lacey. KU also is in the running for No. 1-rated prep Andrew Wiggins.

KU vs. Merv: KU will play the University of New Mexico on Dec. 14 in Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. It will be a one-time game with no return game to UNM. Former KU guard Merv Lindsay will be eligible at New Mexico next season. KU will play Duke in Chicago next season, travel to Colorado and Florida, play Georgetown and San Diego State at home and play in the Battle 4 Atlantis.

He tweeted it: “Kansas has landed a key addition in Arkansas transfer Hunter Mickelson. He’ll fit much better w/ Bill Self’s system,” said Jeff Goodman of CBS’ sources said Mickelson tried to get out of his letter of intent when Pelphrey was fired, but was denied by coach Anderson. Mickelson’s recruiting class included Devonta Abron (now at TCU), B.J. Young (recently declared for NBA Draft) and Kyle Madden, who remains at Arkansas.


JayHok 11 months, 3 weeks ago

KU has the best record in the NCAA tournament over the last 10 years and more. Also the best record in college basketball the last 10-25 years as well. We all know however we've left four NCAA championships on the table in the last four years. Thats why they call it March madness so no blame, it happens to 67 teams every tear. With that said I believe Self or an assistant needs to challenge the team just before the NCAA tournament like Rick Pitino did. Rick just followed through with a promise of getting a huge tattoo on his back. Have to give him credit. I think Self and staff can use similar motivation in the coming years, kids love that kind of thing especially late in the season when a little more inventive is needed.


JayhawkRock78 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Hunter, Welcome to KU. You will love being a Jayhawk. Drive over this weekend and check out AFH and the campus. Lawrence ROCKS!


TheRaptor 11 months, 3 weeks ago

The University of Memphis but yet Kansas University...come on, Dolph, let it go. It's time already.


Tony Bandle 11 months, 3 weeks ago


1] Is Hunter left-handed and plays golf?

2] "Hunter".....what a great name for a shot blocker!!

3] As an All-State football player, I was the third string center on a district champion basketball team that ws 26-3. My job was to pound the two top centers to toughen them up in practice...Hunter just became my favorite player!!

4] Just to clarify..doesn't Bill still have two scholarships left if he asks Keith Langford nicely to pick up the tab for Justin one more time? [ currently 6 holdovers, 5 newbies, 1 transfer = 12]

5] Lacey and Black...sounds like a promo for Victoria Secret!!


NebraskaJayhawk 11 months, 3 weeks ago

No new relevant stories today? What happened, did all the sports columnists take off yesterday and hit the golf course? Come on guys...


Jason Keller 11 months, 3 weeks ago

The most important part about him coming here is that practice will be more competitive for the bigs. If he develops into a bad@ss, that's great but not necessary. Perry, Lucas and Embiid now feel more pressure this off season. Pressure is good.


JBsJAYHAWKS 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Coach is building some serious depth down low - Lucas will be a stud as well - Rock Chalk


fan4kufootball 11 months, 3 weeks ago

my dream is for Arkansas to someday join the Big 12


FearlessJayhawk 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I'm not impressed. He is just another average Joe that will not make an impact. If he was any good, he would have turned pro.


Brett McCabe 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Anderson should have let him out of his LOI in the first place.


Kevin Jenkins 11 months, 3 weeks ago

So much feedback about the negative. So he played at Arkansas, but they do play with the big boys and I saw him play some. I say he will be a good fit. If he doesn't he will give our bigs a good workout. We have some guys that people never expected to play in the NBA and Collison is still helping in OK. Self does know what he is doing. We have some guys that will probably never make it in the NBA, but with their help give us our depth, strength and motivation to win another crown. ROCK CHALK


REHawk 11 months, 3 weeks ago

If I were 6'10" and 245, I think that after two years of collegiate 40 Minutes of Hell, I, too, might wish to settle into a program where I could develop into NBA-style bigman basketball. This transfer offers Mickelson an extra year of college to work under one of the best training and coaching staffs in the nation; and, definitely, an opportunity to experience deep postseason tournament runs. I like that 80% freethrow stat and the freshman block record at Arkansas. Here's a player who is not wishy-washy about the once in a lifetime chance to become a Jayhawk. Rock Chalk, Hunter!


idahawk 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Why do some keep saying "3rd top recruiting class"? Rivals has us as a strong #2. Right?


jhox 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I guess this means we're not going to a full court pressure style of play like Louisville used to win the N.C.

On the plus side, imagine how Mike Anderson must feel losing a player to his former rival, Kansas. (On the other hand, he's so hated in Missouri now, maybe Kansas is is second favorite team?)


Konkis Dongington III 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I take this as good news. There's not much else to say that hasn't been said. Id still like to ad black. He may not be the next trob, but his production even last season isn't that far off from KYs. Its always good to have another enforcer down low. On the lacey freeman split, i say go for both. Either one has its upside. Freeman has the opportunity to contribute immediately. Lacey is a known quantity. Its all good.


Ian Emerson 11 months, 3 weeks ago

What are you talking about desperate in recruiting? Self has the 3rd top recruiting class in the country.


swinglow 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Yep, Self is desperate again in recruiting when he starts taking these type of guys.


jaybate 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Is Jordan Bachynski modeling himself off Scott Pollard?


jaybate 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Self fits the puzzle pieces together yet again.

Michelson can be KU's Mitch McGrary season after next.

Signing Mickelson leaves a perfectly tailored slot for Tarik Black.

And it also cushions the blow in practice, if Black opts for Duke.

Lacey or Freeman? This is the question.

Lacey has the gun.

Self likes guns.

Lacey gets the call if his pop is back.

Not if not.

Freeman was a guy Self really liked.

It will be interesting to see how Self tries to juggle to fit Freeman in.


Brett McCabe 11 months, 3 weeks ago

The kid clearly gets it. The most shocking statement: I talked to Coach Self once or twice. Once or twice? Wow!

Love to see a guy who understands what can happen. He probably watched Kevin Young play himself into a probable overseas contract by hustling and playing deep into the tournament. Smart move.


texashawk10 11 months, 3 weeks ago

This is a good solid pick up for KU. Mickleson has a solid skill set and should be a decent contributor once he becomes eligible. I don't think he'll be a great scorer, but he sounds like he should be a load for opposing offensive players to deal with. It sounds like Mickleson also has a much better work ethic than Tarik Black does and will have 2 years to play along with a year of development instead of just one year after 3 year of progressive declining output and a poor work ethic. Now it's time to go get a 2 guard whether it be Freeman or Lacey.


BigBlue4KU 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I'm surprised the LJW didn't mention that Hunter ended the year (2011) ranked as the number 8 Center and number 55 overall player in the ESPN Top 100. That would have made him the second highest ranked recruit in that KU class and puts him in the same grouping of bigs we were recruiting that year (Angelo Choi, #61 and Norvel Pelle, #72). I think this is a really nice fit for Kansas. Great experienced practice player next year and a good locker room guy. Sounds like he has a good motor, just needs to add that famous Self "toughness!"


jgkojak 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I believe many of the same naysayers were like "Kevin who? Young? Loyola?"

Hudy-ise him, give him tough coaching, and he could be a nice role player/starter depending on need.

He'll be a nice one.


Hawk8086 11 months, 3 weeks ago

This represents depth at center and building / insurance for the future. Traylor is not a true center. Lucas probably needs some development and now there is some talk about Embiid possibly being one and done. The kid is a true center with shot blocking skills which HCBS likes. He'll have a year to continue to develop and be ready to contribute in 2014 and 2015, in addition to making practices more competitive. Self clearly likes to use all of his scholarships as opposed to saving them for the following year, which makes even more sense when there is always the possibility of OAD (Selden, Embiid, but hopefully not). Maybe not a home run (who knows), but I like it.


Steve Gantz 11 months, 3 weeks ago

He's got to be thanking his lucky stars to be coming to KU from that basketball dead end in Fayetteville. Our team in 14-15 is going to be an absolute beast, I won't say Self's best, but wow, what a time to start playing for KU! I can't wait to watch the 'Hawks a year and a half from now!


kucapcity91 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I think Trevor Lacey would be a nice pick up too...wonder if HCBS is looking into that!


DanR 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Judging by pictures on the google, Mickelson is one of those guys who went from looking like a 14-year-old kid to a mature 30-year-old man in two years.


J.T. Even 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Next year's team will be fun to watch. Mickelson will bring another big body big to the practice squad, helping the development of all the post players.

But the team in two years will be where it's at. Five-star studs Ellis, Embiid, and Selden will highlight a very talented and deep team. Think about it... Ellis, Embiid, Lucas, Mickelson in the post. White, Selden, and Greene on the wings. Tharpe, Frankamp, and Mason sharing minutes at the 1 and 2. That will be THE elite title contending team to beat.


bennybob 11 months, 3 weeks ago

This is an indictment on the staffs feeling about Landen Lucas.


Robert Brock 11 months, 3 weeks ago

After a redshirt year working with Hudy, this kid will be a productive big.


Jack Wilson 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Immediate impact? No.

But you know what I think it is at the very least? Security. Look at the 2014 class. Very few big guys outside of the top 15ish. Kind of weird. Meaning the class is thin when it comes to PF and C.

It also creates numbers .. what's the chance that either this guy, Traylor or Lucas blossom into a real player? Well, probably better when you add a third body to the mix.

And while it's security, it's not a roadblock for a top player at all. But it seems like a great gamble.

Nice write-up on the second link below if you have the insider at ESPN. Really, just saying he was too light .. 185 at the time. He's listed at 245 now?? Yikes. That's almost one-third more Hunter.

Seems like a great move; Trevor Lacey next?


Timothy Rake 11 months, 3 weeks ago

"Mickelson, who will have to sit out the 2013-14 season because of transfer rules ..."

Did you not see this in paragraph 3?? Or was it added in?


KGphoto 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Haven’t seen much yet but he looks like he could be a mix of two recent transfers, Withey and Young. Withey with the blocking and FT%, Young with the energy. Looks like he may be a natural leader as well, which is something Withey needed to have infused by players and coaches.

2014 is starting to get crowded at the #4 and #5. Ellis, Embiid, Traylor, Lucas, Mickelson. That’s gonna be a talented and experienced group, even if we don’t land a blue chipper next year.


Joe Baker 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Nothing on ESPN yet. He's high on their list. Let's see how long it takes them to break this news.


jayhawkinnc 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I live here in Fayetteville, AR and I've seen this kid play here at U of A. He's a very skilled big man. His game reminds me a lot of Cole Aldrich. Still has some things to polish up on, but KU is getting a solid big man. Welcome to the Jayhawk Family, Hunter!!!


Robbk1066 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Very Very Good news, lets keep the transfers coming. Need 2-3 players for this year now.

Wiggins is not coming here, but we can get the SG from UCLA, maybe the 6-9 guy from Memphis, we need 2-3 players.


702Hawk 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Great type of guy. He seems classy and big enough to knock guys off the block. Plus big guys who can hit free throws win close games.


William Blake 11 months, 3 weeks ago

This news blindsided me. Never heard of Hunter, but will check him out -

Sounds like a smart guy.


brunnaa 11 months, 3 weeks ago

6-10" and an 80% free throw shooter, I'm good with that. Also interesting to note the kid went from 185 to 245 lbs in 2 years, damn!!!


notjustbread 11 months, 3 weeks ago

good call nuleafjhawk...maybe his family history has volleyball in it.....or do we need a different sport that 'translates' into basketball skillsets...maybe he is a semi-professional juggler...wouldn't the announcers have a hey day with something like that.


g_rock 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Arkansas? They play basketball in Arkansas? I thought they just played with pigs....go figure.


Michael Sillman 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Yep, he might be a bust like that Withey transfer.


Robin Smith 11 months, 3 weeks ago

1.2 blocks in 16 mins of action? 6-10, 245, gonna sit a year, train with Hudy, bang in practice?

sounds like a good pickup towards the future


nuleafjhawk 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Has he ever played volleyball ?


jayhawkbenny27 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I'm going to have to go with the standard 'trust Self' on this one...


DRsmith 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Yep...looks like the perfect transfer. He can follow in the footsteps of all the other large and slow KU big men of the past. I smell desperation from HCBS.


Carter Patterson 11 months, 3 weeks ago

So he sits a year and then plays for two? Come'on Gary....I expect slips from Keegan not you!


ahpersecoachingexperience 11 months, 3 weeks ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.


PSM 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Not eligible this season I assume.


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