Gathering the Kansas men’s basketball team together to host an annual holiday hoops clinic at Allen Fieldhouse is nothing new.
Having one of the players pay for area children to attend it certainly is. But that’s exactly what happened earlier this week, when KU big man Hunter Dickinson covered the cost of the clinic for a dozen 4th through 6th graders from Fort Leavenworth.
Dickinson’s gains through name, image and likeness opportunities made it even easier to pay for the kids to attend the clinic, but he said it meant a little more to him to bring that kind of joy to military families at this time of year.
“It was just great to see the kids that I brought in from Fort Leavenworth, to see them be so happy to be there,” Dickinson said Thursday while previewing this weekend’s matchup with Wichita State at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri. “That made me really feel good about myself, just being able to provide them that experience.”
Hundreds of kids participated in the clinic, which included all kinds of Jayhawks showing them proper technique, teaching them during drills and celebrating whatever successes the youngsters had.
“They were all over,” Dickinson said with a laugh, noting that he was not able to stay too connected to the dozen Fort Leavenworth kids he hosted. “We were doing stations and stuff so it got really hectic. There were a lot of kids in a short period of time.”
The clinic, which is an annual event, was spread out throughout the practice gym and Allen Fieldhouse and the young Jayhawk fans who attended were able to play games against each other and compete with and meet most of their favorite Kansas players.
“He’s a great kid. I think it’s awesome that he did that and doesn’t call any attention to himself, which makes it even cooler, I think.” — KU coach Bill Self on Hunter Dickinson
As is the case every year, photos from the event showed that the Jayhawks themselves had smiles as big as the young athletes they were working with.
Asked what the gesture by Dickinson meant to him, KU coach Bill Self said he wasn’t surprised that the first-year Jayhawk was ready and willing to be so generous.
“He’s a great kid,” Self said. “I think it’s awesome that he did that and doesn’t call any attention to himself, which makes it even cooler, I think.”
Self only found out about Dickinson paying for the 12 kids to attend the clinic when someone shared with him a post from the official Facebook account of Fort Leavenworth.
It read: “Thanks to Kansas University Basketball Center Hunter Dickinson and his family for sponsoring 12 Fort Leavenworth 4th - 6th graders at the KU Men's Basketball Holiday Clinic December 27th at Allen Field House in Lawrence Kansas.”
The post also featured a few photos of the kids at the clinic with Dickinson and the other Kansas players who participated.
Dickinson, who transferred to Kansas from Michigan in the offseason, is averaging 18.3 points and 12.5 rebounds per game for the 2nd-ranked Jayhawks (11-1) through his first 12 games with the program.
KU will close out the non-conference portion of its 2023-24 schedule at 3 p.m. Saturday against Wichita State and open Big 12 play the following Saturday at home against TCU.
— For tickets to all KU athletic events, visit kutickets.com