7-foot-1 Chet Holmgren shines in win over Emoni Bates

Basketball fans got a treat Thursday evening when the No. 1 junior in the country, Emoni Bates, squared off with the No. 1 senior in the country, Chet Holmgren.

Bates is touted as the best high school prospect since LeBron James, but it was the lanky, 7-foot-1 Holmgren who was the star of the game. Holmgren’s Minnesota team, Team Sizzle, defeated Bates’ Ypsi Prep, 78-71, and both players finished with a double-double. Bates had a quiet 36 points (11-for-22 from the field) and 10 rebounds while Holmgren dominated both ends of the court with impressive blocks, long threes and powerful dunks in the lane, finishing with 31 points (13-for-18 from the field), 12 rebounds and six blocks.

Who is Chet Holmgren?

Holmgren burst onto the scene his sophomore season when he crossed Steph Curry over and dunked at Curry’s SC Select camp. “Steph’s one of the coolest dudes in the NBA and afterwards he laughed and said, ‘nice move’ shaking his head,” Holmgren told Yahoo Sports.

Fast forward to his senior year and he is one of the most dominant players in high school basketball. Holmgren has a slight frame and is built similarly to Kevin Durant. He’s been told he’s too skinny but he ignores all the noise from social media.

“Most of the people that tell me that are people on Twitter and have never seen me play basketball in person or understand basketball to begin with,” Holmgren said. “At the end of the day, I’m not too worried about what they’re saying. I’m just going to do me and keep working on my game.”

He moves extremely well for his size. He can defend the lane with his elite shot-blocking ability and sits down with smaller players on the wing. Holmgren has been called “Baby Porzingis” after Dallas Mavericks center Kristaps Porzingis, showing glimpses of being another one of a kind unicorn on the court.

Chet Holmgren, from Minnehaha High School, shoots a free throw during the Pangos All-American Festival on November 8, 2020 at AZ Compass Prep in Chandler, AZ.
At the Pangos All-American Festival, Chet Holmgren averaged 21.5 points, 15 rebounds and 11 blocks in his two games. Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Holmgren is the best high school shot-blocker in America, showcasing his ability at the Pangos All-American Festival in Phoenix, where he averaged 21.5 points, 15 rebounds and 11 blocks in his two games. Holmgren also faced tough competition last weekend where he went head-to-head with top-five senior Jabari Smith Jr.

“It felt good to be back on the court competing with guys from different regions,” Holmgren said. “We didn’t get an AAU season so it’s nice to be back in the gym and going against guys like Jabari [Smith Jr.] and Paolo [Banchero].”

Where could Chet Holmgren land in college?

The Minnesota native plays high school basketball at Minnehaha Academy outside Minneapolis and is down to seven potential colleges: Gonzaga, Minnesota, Ohio State, Michigan, North Carolina, Memphis and Georgetown. Holmgren told Yahoo Sports he’ll make his college announcement sometime midseason in either January or February.

His former high school teammate, Jalen Suggs, is playing at Gonzaga this season and is a projected lottery pick in the 2021 NBA draft. The Zags, Minnesota, Ohio State and Michigan are the favored schools.

“It’s all about fit. You don’t want to go somewhere where they have to change the whole offense to accommodate you or change the defense,” Holmgren told Yahoo Sports. “So I’m just looking at where I fit with the coaching staff, the players on the team and my peers at the school.”

The G League route is always a possibility for top prospects but Holmgren is committed to going to college. “Obviously the G League crossed my mind and I thought about it but for the most part I’m focused on going to college,” Holmgren said.

NBA scouts watching Thursday night might have initially tuned in for Bates but quickly realized Holmgren was the better prospect on the court. We’ll have to wait two short years to see how his game will translate to the NBA but if this last game is any indication of the type of player Holmgren can be at the next level, he has the potential to be an All-Star.

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