Hunter Dickinson injury casts doubt on remainder of Kansas Jayhawks basketball season

The star KU center suffered an untimely injury yesterday against Houston.

Mar 9, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Kansas Jayhawks center Hunter Dickinson (1) warms up before the game against Houston
Mar 9, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Kansas Jayhawks center Hunter Dickinson (1) warms up before the game against Houston / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Most Kansas basketball fans didn't expect the Jayhawks to steal an upset victory when they traveled to Fertitta Center to play Houston yesterday, but the game contained more setbacks than anyone could have imagined.

In addition to dropping the Big 12 regular season finale 76-46, KU's injury woes worsened when star center Hunter Dickinson ran off the court to nurse a shoulder injury midway through the second half. Head coach Bill Self later revealed he had dislocated his shoulder and later popped it back into place.

The 7-foot-2 big man was healthy all season before the freak incident, but his injury is coming at the worst possible time for Kansas. The team has three days of rest before playing its first game in the Big 12 Tournament, and today marks one week to Selection Sunday when the postseason committee will decide KU's position in the NCAA Tournament.

Shoulder dislocations are tricky in any sport, especially one coming this late in the year. If Dickinson suffered a shoulder subluxation (partial dislocation), he would be much more likely to return than if he had a full dislocation. Regardless, the KU medical staff must examine if there is any additional damage in the labrum surrounding bones.

His status should be determined within the coming days after his MRI is completed. Even if no serious structural damage is found, it would be unreasonable to expect him back for the conference tournament. The best-case scenario is he returns for the first weekend of March Madness or the second if Kansas makes it that far.

Dickinson was not the only Kansas player who struggled with an injury against Houston. Kevin McCullar had already been dealing with a bone bruise in his knee heading into the contest. He did not appear in the second half with the game out of reach because his knee was clearly not at 100%.

It seems as though the sky is falling in Lawrence and that everyone should simply look toward next year. However, Jayhawk fans can still remain cautiously optimistic that Dickinson could return this season if the MRI results turn out to be positive.