The nation’s No. 1-ranked basketball recruit is headed to Gonzaga.
Chet Holmgren — a versatile 7-footer from Minneapolis — announced his commitment to the Bulldogs on Monday, giving Mark Few’s program its highest-ranked recruit ever following a 31-1 season and a trip to the national championship game.
The Zags’ previous top recruit was Jalen Suggs, a freshman guard on this past season’s team and the No. 11 overall player in the 2020 class, according to the 247Sports composite rankings. Suggs is also from the Minneapolis area, and he and Holmgren played for the same high school and the same travel basketball program.
“Him going there definitely played a part in it,” Holmgren said when announcing his decision on ESPN’s SportsCenter. “Being able to speak with somebody that I’ve known for so long and trust about it — definitely a big part. But also the way I see myself fitting in. Not only the players, the coaches, the system, the school — but being able to look back and see people with skill sets similar to mine, how they use them, how they adjust every single year. To see the different skill sets they have on that team and make it work — it would be a pretty hard offer to take up on.”
Suggs is expected to be one of the top picks in this year’s NBA Draft.
Holmgren could end up as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 draft.
He’s widely viewed as the nation’s best rim-protector and has a unique skill set for his 7-foot frame. Holmgren often plays on the perimeter on the offensive end — making him a good fit for Gonzaga’s style — and he can shoot and handle the ball like a guard, with range that extends beyond the three-point line.
Holmgren was named the Naismith player of the year, the Sports Illustrated player of the year and the MaxPreps.com player of the year — among other national honors — after averaging 20.8 points, 12.6 rebounds, 4.7 blocks and 4.5 assists per game as a senior this season. In his four years at Minnehaha Academy, he helped lead the team to a 128-15 record with four state titles.
The current 247Sports “comparison” on Holmgren’s player page is former Kentucky star Anthony Davis.
UK was never seriously involved in Holmgren’s recruitment, which had been narrowed down to seven schools: Georgetown, Gonzaga, Memphis, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Ohio State. The G League’s professional development path had also been viewed as a possibility for Holmgren, but it appears he will play college basketball next season instead.
Though he is Gonzaga’s first No. 1-ranked commitment, Holmgren’s announcement came as no surprise in recruiting circles. A steady run of Crystal Ball predictions had been coming in for the Bulldogs in recent months, and they were seen as a possible frontrunner long before that. He took an official visit to Spokane in October 2019, before the NCAA’s ongoing “dead period” for recruiting travel. Ohio State is the only other program he was able to see on an official visit.
Holmgren won’t be the only top-10 recruit in Gonzaga’s 2021 class.
Hunter Sallis — a 6-5 point guard from Omaha — announced his commitment to the program last month. Kentucky was at one time seen as a favorite for Sallis — and North Carolina had also been viewed as a possible frontrunner — but he was unable to visit either school due to the recruiting dead period. Sallis did visit Gonzaga last winter, and he cited that trip and the familiarity he felt with the college campus as a reason for his ultimate decision.
Sallis is the No. 6 overall player in the 2021 composite rankings.
Holmgren’s commitment will move Gonzaga to the No. 3 spot in the 247Sports class rankings for 2021, putting the team behind only Michigan and Tennessee. The Zags’ rise in those rankings bumped Kentucky down to the No. 7 spot, though highly touted transfers Kellan Grady and Oscar Tshiebwe do not factor into class recruiting rankings.