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A Look Back at the 2021 SI All-American Basketball Team

Gonzaga freshman phenom Chet Holmgren was named SI All-American Player of the Year last season.

Come Wednesday the latest crop of high school basketball stars will join the prestigious fraternity of players who can call themselves SI All-Americans nominees.

Sports Illustrated will unveil our list of the 99 seniors and five underclassmen who will vie for one of the 15 spots on the three teams to be announced in the spring.

Here’s a look back at how the SIAA Player of the Year and first teamers earned their spot and how they’re continuing their dominance at the next level.

Player of the Year

C: Chet Holmgren, Minnehaha Academy (Minneapolis, Minn.)

College: Gonzaga

How He Became an SI All-American: Holmgren has earned the moniker of “Unicorn” because of his ability to dominate the game in all facets, playing all five positions. Holmgren was efficient scoring on all three levels and creating a nearly impossible matchup for opposing bigs because of his versatile skill set. Holmgren was equally dominant on the defensive end with precise timing on his blocks in the paint and a tenacious motor that remains in overdrive.

How it’s Going: Holmgren is widely regarded as one of the top bigs in the country, impacting the game on both ends of the floor and helping the Bulldogs to a 7-2 record. Holmgren is averaging 13.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 3.9 blocks a game and is in a two-horse race for the top pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.

Duke Blue Devils forward Paolo Banchero (5) dribbles against the Kentucky Wildcats.

Paolo Banchero has been dominant for Duke this season.

First Team

F: Paolo Banchero, O’Dea (Seattle)

College: Duke

How He Became an SI All-American: The pandemic cancelled Banchero’s senior season, but his dominance with his travel teams proved that he’s taken his diverse skill set to the next level. At 6’11”, Banchero played all five positions with an elite motor that enabled him to outwork the opposition. He averaged 32.5 points, 11.6 rebounds, three assists 2.3 blocks a game while running with club teams this season. It was Banchero’s second appointment to the SI All-American team.

How it’s Going: Banchero has been on a tear out of the gate this season, dominating all comers and leading the Blue Devils to a 7-1 record. Banchero continues to thrive as an all-everything player, impacting the game in multiple facets on both ends of the floor. Banchero is averaging 17.8 points and 7.3 rebounds a game for the Blue Devils.

F: Michael Foster, Hillcrest Prep (Phoenix, Ariz.)

SI Recommends

Team: G League Ignite

How He Became an SI All-American: Foster was one of the most dominant players in the country last season, regardless of class, using his versatility and 6’9”, 220-pound frame to dominate the opposition. Last season, Foster, a two-time SI All-American, averaged 32 points, 16 rebounds, four assists and four blocks a game for Hillcrest which finished 32-3 this season.

How it’s Going: Foster hasn’t missed a beat at the pro level, using his versatile skill set to produce on both ends of the floor. This season, Foster is averaging 15.8 points and 9.8 rebounds a game.

PG: Kennedy Chandler, Sunrise Christian (Bel Aire, Ariz.)

College: Tennessee

How He Became an SI All-American: Chandler opened the season as the No. 1 point guard in the SI99 and despite all of the extra attention that accompanies the appointment, he managed to elevate his game and dominance. Last season, despite playing in the toughest league in the country (NIBC), Chandler averaged 16 points, seven assists, four rebounds and three steals a game while running the show alongside multiple Division I prospects. Chandler led the Buffaloes all the way to the GEICO Nationals title game.

How it’s Going: Chandler has hit the ground running for Rick Barnes, controlling the Vols offense and guiding them to a 6-1 record. Chandler has emerged as one of the top floor generals in the country, averaging 16.1 points, 4.7 assists, 2.4 steals and 2.9 rebounds a game.

SG: Jaden Hardy, Coronado (Henderson, Nev.)

Team: G League Ignite

How He Became an SI All-American: Hardy proved to be the most lethal backcourt scorer in the country, regardless of class, because of his limitless and efficient range, quick release, strength and athleticism. Hardy eventually opted out of finishing last season due to concerns surrounding the pandemic, but not before averaging 36 points a game with his club team. Hardy had some of his best games this season against fellow SI All-Americans.

How it’s Going: Hardy has settled into the pro game nicely displaying his customary scoring prowess from all over the floor to the tune of 15 points, while dishing out five assists a game.

SF: Emoni Bates, Ypsi Prep (Ypsilanti, Mich.)

College: Memphis

How He Became an SI All-American: Bates was the lone underclassmen to make the first team, but his consistent dominance last season made him a shoo-in for the honor. Bates, a two-time SI All-American, averaged 24.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.8 steals a game, while playing a grueling schedule. The numbers are even more impressive when you consider that Bates’ fame as “the next big thing” garnered him, arguably, more defensive attention than any other high school player in the country.

How it’s Going: Bates has settled into a role for the Tigers, knocking down shots and picking his spots well on the offensive end. Bates leads a veteran squad in scoring at 11.5 points a game.