Article by Chris Monter
Chet Holmgren, a 7-foot senior center from Minneapolis (MN) Minnehaha Academy, is currently ranked as the number one player in the country by ESPN and 247 Sports. He has led the Redhawks to a 12-1 start and a #11 ranking in the country by MaxPreps as they are outscoring their opposition by 28.5 points per game.
Holmgren scored a season-high 29 points as Minnehaha defeated previously undefeated Waseca 94-66 Tuesday night.
Holmgren is averaging 21.3 points per game this season and has scored in double figures in every game.
Holmgren averaged 14.3 points per game as a junior, helping to lead the Redhawks to a 25-3 mark. Their bid to win a fourth straight title, this time in Class AAA, was stopped when the season was cancelled, due to COVID-19. He scored in double figures in all but three games, including a season-best 29 versus Monticello.
Holmgren helped lead Minnehaha to a 29-2 as a sophomore as they won their third straight Class AA title by defeating Minneapolis North 69-52. He averaged 18.3 points per game and scored in double figures in every game but one. Holmgren had a season-high 26 points versus Breck.
Holmgren averaged 7.1 points per game as a freshman as Minnehaha finished 28-4. The Redhawks won their second straight Class AA title, defeating Caledonia 73-60 as he scored seven points. He scored in double figures in eight games. Holmgren had a season-high 20 in the team’s 79-52 win over Providence Academy.
Holmgren averaged 3.3 points per game as an eighth-grader as Minnehaha finished 26-5. The Redhawks won the Class AA title, defeating Crosby-Ironton 47-36. He had a season-high eleven points versus St. Paul Highland Park.
GopherHole caught up with Holmgren after the win over Waseca to talk about the latest on his recruitment and his senior season.
GopherHole: How pleased are you with how well you guys are playing. You are off to a 12-1 start and have been pretty dominant throughout the season. How pleased are you with how well the team has played so far?
Chet Holmgren: We’ve definitely had a great start to the season. We took some bumps here and there, just as any team would. We are just trying to roll with the punches. Take the adversity and learn from it. I feel like we are doing that pretty well so far. We are starting to jell pretty good, hitting the midway part of the season and getting close to playoffs, which is exactly what you want. You want to peak at the end and we are working towards that.
GopherHole: Is that something that you are looking forward to, the playoffs, because, unfortunately, COVID hit at the worst time. You guys were getting ready to go to another state tournament and hopefully win a fourth straight title. Is that something you are really looking forward to getting back there?
Chet Holmgren: Definitely. I feel bad for the seniors last year, especially, Jalen (Suggs), Terry (Lockett), Kaden (Johnson), Ben (Thurow) and Sam (Gonzalez). All the seniors last year didn’t get to have their final run for their senior year and now that is kind of the position that we are in. This could have been our last game. Anything can happen. We are not taking it for granted. We are playing every game like it is our last and I think it showed tonight.
GopherHole: How tough has this been, playing with COVID and everything going on?
Chet Holmgren: It is definitely a weird year. Never thought it would have happened last year at this time, but here we are and we’ve got to live with it, basically.
GopherHole: How about your own play? I know that you were recently named as one of the five Naismith Award finalist for the top high school player in the country. What does that mean to you?
Chet Holmgren: Any recognition is cool, but I don’t look too much at the personal accolades. Right now, I’m focused on helping my team be the best team that we can be and win the state championship. That is the ultimate goal right now.
GopherHole: Another big honor that you got was being named to the McDonald’s All-American Game. Unfortunately, they are not going to do that. Is that kind of disappointing because I know that you love playing against the top players in the country?
Chet Holmgren: Yes, you always want to play against the best competition and it was unfortunate that we couldn’t do it this year, but again, that is not the end goal. It is an honor to be named to the team. There is a lot of McDonald’s All-Americans that you don’t remember. I’m definitely working towards bigger things and I don’t want to be one of those guys.
GopherHole: Does that make you pretty proud because you have back-to-back guys from the same high school, which doesn’t happen very often to be named to that game?
Chet Holmgren: Yes, it has definitely been a dream for a long time, especially playing with Jalen since I basically started playing basketball in the third grade. Growing up with him, when Reid Travis and Tyus Jones got named to the McDonald’s All-American Game, we went to it in Chicago and it kind of came full circle, eight or so years later, we got anointed to the team as well. It is definitely a cool experience. I was happy for him last year and was definitely pretty excited for it this year as well.
GopherHole: I know that he is playing on the West Coast, but are you catching a lot of Jalen’s games?
Chet Holmgren: Yes, I’m definitely watching a lot of college basketball. Just trying to figure out what I like best and where I want to go next year.
GopherHole: Do you watch it a little bit differently than you did in the past, now that you are so close to being in college?
Chet Holmgren: Yes, definitely. You look at a whole lot more at the tiny little things. You are not just tuning in to see great players go to work and get buckets. You are definitely looking at all the X’s and O’s. All the little things, down to the last guy on the bench. How the relationships all are. You are talking to a lot of coaches, kind of getting the behind the scenes, so it is definitely a lot different from just turning on the TV every once in awhile and watching basketball, but it is fun.
GopherHole: I think the last I saw you had kind of a list of seven. Is that still the way it is now?
Chet Holmgren: Yes, definitely. Trying to cut it down, narrow it down here towards the end and figure it and get it to one.
GopherHole: Is it harder now that you can’t do a lot of the visits and some of the things you could have done in the past?
Chet Holmgren: Yes, that definitely threw some bumps in my recruitment, but like I said, you have to make lemonade to out of the lemons that life gives you, so I am just trying to make it happen.
GopherHole: In a perfect world, to be honest, would you have already decided on a school or had you planned to wait?
Chet Holmgren: I can’t change the events of what happened, so I couldn’t tell you one way or the other, but I definitely would have taken some more visits and gotten out a few more times, but other than that I can’t say too much.
GopherHole: What are going to be the main factors that make you pick School A over School B and C?
Chet Holmgren: There are definitely levels to it. The top level is how I fit in to the system of basketball. How I fit in with the coaches, with the players. Overall, how they are going to help me achieve my dreams and help them achieve the dreams of winning a “natty.”
GopherHole: I know Minnesota fans would love for you to stay here. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the year they were hoping to have and to be honest, there might even be a coaching change. Does that change how you look at them or is it hard to say right now?
Chet Holmgren: It’s just hard to say right now with everything going on. Nothing is final. The season is still going, so I am just still paying close attention and watching everything.
Photo by John Autey