Chances are, Mark Few hasn’t completely healed from the 86-70 shellacking he and Gonzaga suffered at the hands of Baylor in the national championship game earlier this month, but he and the Bulldogs received some news Monday that should fast-track their mental bounce back.
Minnehaha Academy (Minneapolis, Minn.) center Chet Holmgren, who was named SI All-American Player of the Year earlier on April 9, announced his commitment to Gonzaga, picking the Bulldogs over Georgetown, Memphis, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State and North Carolina.
"It's a perfect fit the way they play with space and pace," Holmgren said of the Gonzaga system. "I want to get out and run, get out and play fast; it's definitely a more NBA style of play. The earlier I learn that style, the better I can play at it."
Holmgren, who is ranked No. 1 overall in the SI99, dominated the competition this season to the tune of 20.7 points, including shooting 80% from the field, 12.4 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 5.1 blocks a game en route to leading Minnehaha to the state title; his fourth at the school.
The Bulldogs were ranked No. 1 in SI’s Way Too Early Top 25 due in large part to the likelihood of Holmgren signing on and the potential for sophomore forward Drew Timme to return.
It’s a forgone conclusion that Holmgren’s former teammate at Minnehaha, freshman point guard Jalen Suggs, and senior wing Corey Kispert will declare for the NBA Draft; junior guard Joel Ayayi declared last week.
Conventional wisdom says Timme makes the leap after a dominant showing in the NCAA tournament, posting 20 points and six rebounds a game.
Still, the lure of teaming up with the 7-foot-1 “Unicorn,” Holmgren’s nickname for his ability to dominate all five positions and be equally dominant on the defensive end, could entice Timme to stay.
Holmgren’s presence in Spokane will also make the likely expanded roles of Andrew Nembhard and Julian Strawther run smoother, and incoming combo guard Hunter Sallis should thrive alongside Holmgren.
At his size, Holmgren can run the offense like a veteran point guard, knock down three-pointers like a marksman, handle the ball like it’s on a string and spike shots in abundance.
He has the potential to not only win Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year in the West Coast Conference, but nationally as well.
Holmgren joins Sallis, Kaden Perry and Fanbo Zeng to form the Bulldogs 2021 recruiting haul, which currently checks in at No. 3 in the SIAA team recruiting rankings.