MINNEAPOLIS - There wasn’t much left for Chet Holmgren to accomplish as a high school athlete, but he filled his trophy case Wednesday with the Gatorade National Player of the Year Award.
Holmgren was the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2021, finished his high school career leading Minnehaha Academy to a state championship and was named Mr. Basketball. Last week, he won the Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year Award.
Wednesday, he joined the likes of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and most recently Emoni Bates. His former teammate, Jalen Suggs, surprised him virtually with the award.
"It’s definitely an honor to have my name listed next to some of the great names like that. They continue to work hard after getting their name engraved on the trophy, and I plan to do the same thing to accomplish my future goals," Holmgren said Wednesday from Minnehaha Academy.
Holmgren, a 7-1, 175-pound center, led the Redhawks to a state championship this past season after averaging 20.8 points, 12.6 rebounds, 4.7 blocks and 4.4 assists per game on the way to a 20-1 season. He was a McDonald’s All-American, He won the 2021 Naismith High School Trophy Player of the Year as the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit. He ended his high school basketball career with the Redhawks with 1,567 points, 964 rebounds and 456 blocked shots.
Suggs has known Holmgren since they were teammates around third grade.
"Chet’s a character and being able to see him grow from when we were kids in elementary school to where he is now, it’s been an honor. It’s been a pleasure to watch. He’s gone from being goofy and uncoordinated to the best player in the country and one of the best basketball players I know," Suggs said.
Holmgren’s game isn’t that of a typical 7-footer. He can score and defend inside, but can also shoot from the perimeter and can take a defender off the dribble. He’s essentially a match-up nightmare, which started from his days in pick-up basketball.
"To be able to do anything in pick-up basketball, you have to be able to dribble and shoot on your own. There’s not too many people posting up and passing it in pick-up games," Holmgren said.
Holmgren is headed to Gonzaga next season after watching Suggs take an undefeated Zags’ team to the national championship, where they lost to Baylor. Holmgren is equally proud to be honored with the award for his work away from basketball in the community. He’s a tutor at local elementary schools, and Saturday, he and his barber are hosting a donation drive in Roseville from 1-6 p.m. for new or slightly used sports gear, and winter clothing.
"It’s definitely a great honor. Not only because it highlights some of the stuff that I’ve done on the court, it highlights some of the stuff that I’m striving to do off the court, helping others and pushing myself in the classroom. It’s definitely great to know the hard work is paying off," Holmgren said.
Holmgren is likely one-and-done at Gonzaga. He’s already a projected top-five pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.