Chet Holmgren, Emoni Bates and other Stars Shine Bright in Nationally Televised Slate of Games

Jason Jordan

From staking a strong claim at the No. 1 spot to under-the-radar dominance there were plenty of revelations after a full slate of games on ESPN’s GEICO Showcase on Thursday night.

Here are just a few things we learned from the matchups.

Chet Holmgren Left No Doubt About His No. 1 Status

The showdown between Holmgren, the top senior in the country, and Emoni Bates, the top junior, surpassed its billing, but, in the end, Holmgren’s performance left no doubt about who was at the top of the food chain.

Holmgren posted 31 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks to lead Team Sizzle (Minn.) past Ypsi Prep (Mich.) 78-71.

Granted, Bates, who is often referred to as the top prospect in high school basketball, regardless of class, was dominant too, scoring 36 points to lead Ypsi, but Holmgren showed the full array of his offensive repertoire – a 7-footer efficiently running point-forward, taking it coast-to-coast for thunderous dunks, blowing past Bates on occasion, and draining NBA 3-pointers – plus he dominated on the defensive end.

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His six blocks paled in comparison to the number of shots he changed, a stat line that was easily in double figures.

Bates donned the cover of Sports Illustrated at 15 and was named to the inaugural SI All-American team in the spring; he’s every bit as good or better than advertised.

Still, Holmgren shined brightest on the biggest stage, evident of his name trending on Twitter during and after the game.

M.J. Rice is the Engine That Makes Oak Hill Go

The Warriors (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) tactically dismantled Lake Norman Christian (Charlotte, N.C.) 83-66 due in large part to junior shooting guard MJ Rice.

The 6-5 junior thrived as a playmaker/scorer posting 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the win. The stat-line is even more impressive considering that Rice is coming off of an ACL tear last season.

Rice has only been at full speed a short time and is working his way back into game shape but showed an improved perimeter stroke and the same explosion that made him one of the top juniors in the country.

The Warriors don’t have their trademark full stable of five-star thoroughbreds, but with Rice at the controls on a team loaded with young stars on the cusp of that appointment, Steve Smith’s squad will be in the national title hunt once again.

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Buy Stock in Donovan Smith

Overshadowed by the heavyweight bout between Bates and Holmgren was the dominant shooting display from Team Sizzle guard Donovan Smith.

In Team Sizzle’s 78-71-win, Smith scored 24 points on eight 3-pointers, prompting Holmgren to refer to him as “Baby Trae Young.”

Smith’s elite shooting has been on display all summer for Team Sizzle, earning him interest and offers from Hampton, Western Illinois, Morgan State, Saint Thomas and others.

Expect that list to expand by next week.

Jaden Hardy is Making His Case for No. 1

Reasonable minds can agree that Holmgren is the No. 1 player in the country, regardless of class, but the fact that Hardy makes a legitimate case for the top spot every time he steps onto the hardwood is telling.

In the follow-up game to the Holmgren vs. Bates battle, Hardy scored 39 points to lead Air Nado (Nev.) Coronado) past CBC (Calif.) 89-83.

Hardy’s dominance was an encore to another dominant showing on national TV during the Border League two weeks prior.

There, Hardy averaged 31.3 points a game staging a one-man “Stephen Curry-like” shooting display including a 46-point outing against national powerhouse Prolific Prep (Napa, Calif.).

Overtaking Holmgren for the No. 1 spot will be a tall order due to his dominance on both ends of the floor, but Hardy’s consistent shooting/scoring display can’t go unnoticed. 

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