The shortage of Hunter Dickinson free throw attempts is alarming for Kansas basketball

Whatever the reason may be, KU's star big man isn't getting to the free throw line enough.
Kansas v West Virginia
Kansas v West Virginia / G Fiume/GettyImages

While criticism is abundant toward Hunter Dickinson, his offensive talent at the college level is undeniable. The star big man is averaging 18.2 points, 10.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.2 blocks on 55.8% shooting in his inaugural season with the Kansas basketball program. But despite all the things Dickinson is able to do on the floor, he has had trouble getting to the free throw line.

For a 7-foot-2 center attempting 13.8 shots and 32.2 minutes played, 2.8 free throw attempts per game is an abnormally small number. The only time this year that Dickinson shot more than six free throw attempts was against Kentucky when he dropped a 27-point, 21-rebound double-double in a thrilling Champions Classic victory.

Dickinson has never shot excessive amounts of free throws, but he did average 4.7 per game one year ago at Michigan. There were seven games in which he got to the line nine or more times, yet he couldn't draw a foul call if his life depended on it this year.

Star players, especially those who are the tallest players on the court when they take the floor, usually get more favorable whistles. Take Purdue's Zach Edey, a fellow big man who towers over everyone at 7-foot-4. He is averaging 10.8 free throw attempts per game, nearly four times more than Dickinson. Unfortunately, Dickinson isn't receiving that same star treatment.

A possible explanation for his lack of opportunities at the charity stripe could be that he is a finesse player. His soft left-hand hook or crafty layups might not draw as much attention as a player driving to the rim at full speed, looking to draw a foul. Dickinson also has to get rid of shots quicker than the average player because of all the double teams he draws from opposing defenses.

And of course, the elephant in the room for the entire league is poor refereeing. Big 12 officials were bad in the past, but it feels like they have never been THIS poor. BYU, one of the most prolific 3-point shooting teams in the country, shot 46 free throws during their last game, yet this 7-foot-2 beast in the paint has shot two or fewer in seven of the Jayhawks' 12 conference games.

People are taking notice of how bad the refs are in the conference. Bill Self got himself thrown out of KU's previous contest vs. Texas Tech, which happened to be his first ejection since he landed the Kansas job two decades ago. Head coaches Scott Drew and Kelvin Sampson have also been ejected since the beginning of February, and we're hardly two weeks into the month.

For all of the things the Kansas basketball team does poorly, free throw shooting is something they do pretty well. This current group is shooting the highest free throw percentage in program history at 73.7%, and they have a big man who shoots it pretty well himself. Regardless of how, Coach Self and the Jayhawks need Dickinson to get to the line more, or the season will continue to spiral downhill.