From professional stars to Final Four stars last season’s inaugural SI All-American Boys Basketball Team went on to accomplish mind-boggling feats in their first post-high school year.
Still, this year’s crop of All-Americans has the talent to potentially surpass their predecessors as we unveil 15 of the top high school basketball players in the country broken up into three teams.
In a year where sample sizes were condensed significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, each player has exhibited a level of play this season that will make them a household name at the next level and beyond.
Minnehaha Academy (Minneapolis, Minn.) star Chet Holmgren was named SI All-American Player of the Year after dominating the competition this season, averaging 20.7 points (80% from the field), 12.4 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 5.1 blocks a game.
Holmgren played a handful of nationally televised games against other SI All-Americans and managed to be the best player on the floor every time, a telling feat in itself.
“It’s a major honor to be named Player of the Year anywhere, but definitely with a brand like Sports Illustrated,” Holmgren said. “For me, it’s just a reminder of what hard work and dedication can get you. I’m appreciative, but it just makes me want to work harder, honestly.”
Still, as dominant as Holmgren was this season, he had stiff competition for the SI All-American Player of the Year honor.
Here’s a look at the players that pushed him all year and earned their way onto the SI All-American first team in the process.
Player of the Year
C: Chet Holmgren, Minnehaha Academy (Minneapolis, Minn.), 2021
Why He’s 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 is an efficient scorer on all three levels and creates a nearly impossible matchup for opposing bigs because of his versatile skill set. Holmgren is equally dominant on the defensive end with precise timing on his blocks in the paint and a tenacious motor that remains in overdrive.
F: Paolo Banchero, O’Dea (Seattle), 2021
Why He’s an SI All-American: The pandemic cancelled Banchero’s season, but his dominance with his travel teams proved that he’s taken his diverse skill set to the next level. At 6-foot-11, Banchero can play all five positions with an elite motor that enables 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. This is Banchero’s second appointment to the SI All-American team.
F: Michael Foster, Hillcrest Prep (Phoenix, Ariz.), 2021
Why He’s an SI All-American: Foster was one of the most dominant players in the country this season, regardless of class, using his versatility and 6-foot-9, 220-pound frame to dominate the opposition. This season, Foster, now 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.
PG: Kennedy Chandler, Sunrise Christian (Bel Aire, Ariz.), 2021
Why He’s 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. This 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. Last week at GEICO Nationals he led the Buffaloes to the title game.
SG: Jaden Hardy, Coronado (Henderson, Nev.), 2021
Why He’s an SI All-American: Hardy is 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 the 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.
SF: Emoni Bates, Ypsi Prep (Ypsilanti, Mich.), 2022
College: Michigan State
Why He’s an SI All-American: Bates is the lone underclassmen to make the first team, but his consistent dominance this season made him a shoo-in for the honor. Bates, now 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 this season. The numbers are even more impressive when you consider that Bates’ fame as “the next big thing” garners him, arguably, more defensive attention than any other high school player in the country.