Chet Holmgren, a 7-foot, 175-pound sophomore center from Minneapolis (MN) Minnehaha Academy, is one of the top big men in the Midwest in the Class of 2021 and is considered the number one prospect from Minnesota in the class.
Holmgren is averaging 18.4 points per game this season as Minnehaha is off to a 4-1 start. He has scored in double figures in all five games and has two games of more than 20 points, including a season-best 21 versus St. Paul Highland Park.
Gopher Hole recently caught up with Holmgren to talk about the latest on his recruitment and his sophomore season.
Gopher Hole: Your role changes this year with you losing JaVonni (Bickham), Terry (Lockett) and some other key players. How do you see your role being different than last year as a freshman?
Chet Holmgren: Coach told me at the beginning of the year that I am going to have to take more shots. I am going to have to be more of a threat offensively, which is fine with me because I see myself as a scorer. I can score on all levels of the floor. It is definitely helpful, touching the ball more. Getting a feel for the game. It helps you throughout the game. He said that I also have to play even a bigger role on the defensive end, protecting the rim, especially switching screens. Switching doubling. Hedging. All that. I guess that my role has just gotten a lot bigger this year.
Gopher Hole: You had a really big spring and summer AAU-wise. How do you see your game has changed from last year even to this year?
Chet Holmgren: I’ve put a lot more work into handling the ball. I’m a lot more comfortable doing it. I can run the pick and roll now a lot better. Last year, it was kind of iffy. This year. I kind of got it tight. I kind of got it down.
Gopher Hole: It seems like you are more confident on the court. Do you think that is due to having a lot of success this spring and summer carrying over this year now that you are playing some games?
Chet Holmgren: Yes, for sure. When you get more touches, you kind of get a better feel for the game. You get more confident as the game goes on. That’s just kind of what happened. I got more confident. Kept my head in the game and it just turned out well for our team.
Gopher Hole: I think that you are up to four offers. Is that right?
Chet Holmgren: Five.
Gopher Hole: You have Minnesota, Purdue, Texas A&M, Nevada and who else?
Chet Holmgren: Western Kentucky.
Gopher Hole: Obviously, that has to make you feel pretty pleased that you have gotten those offers. What is the feeling?
Chet Holmgren: I have feeling that I’m not done yet. Got a long ways to go. Definitely not satisfied with where I am. I’ve got to put a lot of work in. Get a lot better, so hopefully, by the time, I’m a senior making my choice on where to go to college, I have the right college for me as a fit on and off the court.
Gopher Hole: Does that motivate you, like you said, to get even more looks to keep working on your game, so you’ll hear from some more schools?
Chet Holmgren: Yes, for sure, especially with the guys I have around me. They definitely push me. I push them. It’s just great to have a team that supports you. Coaches that support you. Parents that support you. It makes you want to work that much harder, just to make them proud.
Gopher Hole: You talked about your family?
Chet Holmgren: My father played for the Gophers back in the 80’s. He played for St. Paul Central his first three years of high school and when that closed, he played for Prior Lake his senior year. My mom, she didn’t play basketball. She is big on the academics, so she really pushed me in the classroom
Gopher Hole: Obviously, he was a very talented player. Have you ever seen a lot of his highlights? I know it was before YouTube.
Chet Holmgren: They are on the, what’s it called? The little things that spin around with the tape. Reel to reel. I saw one of those. I watched it. It was awhile ago. I still remember it pretty well, though. He definitely had a good touch on the jump shot that I have tried to pick up through the years. He was very mobile for the time. He didn’t have the outside handles, though. He was more of a back-to-the basket, spot up shooter. He has really tried to push me as the game is changing to get the handles down.
Gopher Hole: Is that something you like, because like you said, because you are obviously, a player with size but you have the ability to step out and face the basket?
Chet Holmgren: Yes. I just try to be able to do everything on the court, so a team can take away one option, there is always another option open. Another option available.
Gopher Hole: Do you guys still play one-on-one at all?
Chet Holmgren: No. He wouldn’t play me anymore. He says that he is getting too old.
Gopher Hole: When did he stop playing you?
Chet Holmgren: I think when I hit 6-8.
Gopher Hole: You are seven-foot. Have you talked to your doctors about how tall you might get?
Chet Holmgren: Last time, I got x-rays, they said my growth plates were still open, so possibly two inches, possibly five. I don’t know. I have no idea. Maybe none, I don’t know.
Gopher Hole: You are a player who has shown that you are pretty coordinated, despite the height. Sometimes when a player is growing so much, it is hard to keep everything going, but that seems like something you have worked on. Is that something you like, your ability to run the floor and do other things besides be tall?
Chet Holmgren: That is just a god-gifted talent, I guess. I haven’t really worked a huge amount of my coordination. I could definitely get better on my coordination, but I was just born with it.
Gopher Hole: Your dad played for the hometown school. What are you hearing from the Gophers?
Chet Holmgren: I have gone to a few games this year. A couple of practices. Great facilities. Great team. They are going to be good this year, especially as they get better throughout the season. Definitely an option.
Gopher Hole: Obviously, they have a few Minnesota kids like Amir Coffey. Gabe Kalscheur, Jarvis Omarsa and Daniel Oturu. Does that make you look at that school a little different, knowing that you can be a successful player locally and playing Big Ten basketball?
Chet Holmgren: It is the hometown school, so you are always going to look at it a bit differently. Put on for Minnesota. It is definitely an option.
Gopher Hole: Does it mean much that your dad went there? Is that a factor at all?
Chet Holmgren: I guess you could say so, but he is more pushing me to find the school that is right for me, rather than just go there because he went there. If it’s the right school for me, he’ll tell me to definitely do it.
Gopher Hole: You have five offers. What other schools are you hearing from besides those five?
Chet Holmgren: It’s a pretty long list. Kansas, Villanova, Gonzaga, Oklahoma, Iowa, Iowa State, Nebraska, Marquette. Pretty much the whole Big Ten, I guess.
Gopher Hole: Did you get a chance to go to many college football games this fall?
Chet Holmgren: No. I went to the Minnesota college football game, their homecoming game against Iowa. I couldn’t quite make it out of town for any other football games.
Gopher Hole: You have to be pretty pleased to getting the looks that you are getting for such a young player?
Chet Holmgren: Yes, I am definitely happy with it, but never satisfied. Still got a long ways to go. Got to get better, so that when I find that school that is right for me, I can definitely perform at a high level at the next level.