MINNEAPOLIS - Chet Holmgren has been playing basketball since he was nine years old and Thursday night, a life-long dream will become a reality in the NBA Draft.
Holmgren, a former Minnehaha Academy star, is a consensus top-two pick. That means he’s most likely to end up with the Orlando Magic, or Oklahoma City Thunder. If he goes to the Magic at No. 1 overall, that also means he’s teammates again with childhood friend Jalen Suggs.
"I’ve definitely talked to him. I saw him recently and beyond just talking Orlando, he gives me a lot of tips on the NBA," Holmgren said Monday via Zoom. "We talk about the NBA a lot and he’s given me a lot of tips because he’s been there, he’s seen it."
Holmgren, a 7-foot, 195-pound center, is a match-up nightmare for most opponents. In 32 games with Gonzaga, he averaged 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game on the way to being a Second Team All-American, a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year and one of 10 semifinalists for the Naismith Trophy.
He can score on the inside, pass out of double teams, shoot from the perimeter and even take defenders off the dribble. He shot 73.7 percent from the floor in one season at Gonzaga, including 39 percent from the perimeter. His defensive presence and ability to block shots also makes him a rim protector. He’s been most commonly compared to Kevin Durant.
His NBA dream will become real Thursday night, and he’s already in New York City prepping for the moment he hears his name and shakes the hand of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
"It’s definitely crazy coming into this week. I think every little kid imagines it. But to actually be here, sitting in New York City a few days away from the draft, it’s definitely a blessing. I’m excited for it," Holmgren said.
Holmgren, who wouldn't say which teams he has had pre-draft workouts with, was asked if he has a preference where he goes in the draft, knowing it’s either Orlando with Suggs or Oklahoma City.
"At the end of the day, it’s going to be a complete blessing to have a NBA jersey and put that hat on draft night, no matter where it is," Holmgren said. "It’s not up to me at the end of the day, no matter where it is I’m going to lace my shoes up and get to work as soon as I touch down in the city. I’m excited for that, wherever that is."
Holmgren is also one of three Minnesotans likely to hear their name called Thursday night, joining Kendall Brown and David Roddy.
Kendall Brown was a star at East Ridge before playing his final prep year at Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas. The 6-8, 205-pound guard played one season at Baylor and was named to the All-Big 12 Freshman Team. He helped lead the players to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament after averaging 9.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in 34 starts.
Brown could be a mid to late first round pick.
Minneapolis native David Roddy was a star athlete at Breck High School in Golden Valley before going onto a successful career at Colorado State. Roddy was the Mountain West Player of the year last season averaging 19.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. He’s a 6-6, 255-pound forward who has been compared to Charles Barkley.
In high school, Roddy was a football and basketball standout, and participated in discus and shot put in track and field.
This year will mark the third straight that Minnesota has had multiple players taken in the NBA Draft. The state has had nine selected since 2015.