Chet Holmgren is 7-feet tall, but he works on his ball handling every day.
So it wasn't surprising for the Minnehaha Academy junior center when he used Steph Curry’s signature move against him at the SC30 Select Camp in California's Bay Area last week.
The double-behind-the-back dribble to get the Golden State Warriors star off balance helped Holmgren drive past Curry for a soaring two-handed slam.
Not only did the campers go crazy, but social media blew up soon as well. His video of shaking Curry went viral, including being featured on ESPN’s Sportscenter.
“It was like a dream,” Holmgren told the Star Tribune. “It was kind of just a reaction. There are certain moves that come out based on the defense. And he shifted, so I doubled it up.”
Holmgren's arguably the best shot blocker in the country, but there also might not be a more skilled high school player his size regardless of class, recruiting experts say.
Even casual basketball fans now know Holmgren's name. But his rise from relatively unknown prospect nationally to consensus top-10 player in the Class of 2021 was one of the biggest stories of the summer basketball scene this year, even before Curry's camp.
The son of Dave Holmgren, who played for the Gophers in the 1980s, constantly works on his handles, but his jumper is just as smooth. His guard-like skills at his size almost makes you forget about him being a human eraser with a 7-6 wingspan.
To begin Under Armour Association play in the spring, Holmgren opened eyes by totaling 49 blocks in his first six games, which included highs of 12 blocks and 10 blocks twice. He drilled at least two three-pointers in four of those games. His best all-around performance with Grassroots Sizzle was 19 points, 13 rebounds and nine blocks vs. Mudiay Elite.
“After the first game of the first Under Armour tournament, I knew it would be a special summer,” Holmgren said. “Our whole team just clicked well, and I had huge games.”
Holmgren jumped from unranked to No. 4 in the 2021 class by 247Sports.com. He has scholarship offers from Kansas, Ohio State, Texas, Purdue, Iowa, Maryland and Minnesota, among others. He was the first player in the state’s 2021 class to receive an offer from the Gophers last year.
Two top in-state 2021 targets, Kendall Brown and Treyton Thompson, are transferring to prep schools, but not Holmgren. That’s helped him develop a good relationship with the U, which included an unofficial visit to Gophers practice earlier this month.
“We have been building a better and better relationship since they have become able to contact me,” Holmgren said. “It’s a new culture and it’s heading in the right direction. This year should be a big year for them.”
Teaming with Minnehaha Academy’s five-star senior guard Jalen Suggs for Team Sizzle, Holmgren played well enough to be featured with Suggs on Slam Magazine covers created by the online site to honor the top players in the UAA circuit this summer.
You could argue that Holmgren and Suggs were the best inside and outside tandem in all of AAU basketball this year.
“It’s something special,” Holmgren said. “We are almost always on the same page even without speaking. It’s just a product of playing together since the third grade.”
While Holmgren had the most memorable play at the SC30 camp, Suggs was named most outstanding male player there last week. Suggs was also the Under Armour Circuit’s MVP and the MVP at the Big Time tournament in Las Vegas playing for Team Sizzle.
“He was amazing,” Holmgren said about Suggs this summer. “I believe he should be No. 1 in his class. He’s the best two-way player in the class.”
Suggs puts in work in the weight room, especially playing football as well. Holmgren said he’s been working harder on adding weight and strength.
“Doesn’t look like it, but I have gained almost 10 pounds since this time last year,” said Holmgren, who is nearing 200 pounds. “A lot of core and leg strength, which allows me to push through those seven-game weekends and long camps when the legs start to wear out.”
Holmgren’s summer will come to an end playing with Suggs at the Slam Summer Classic in New York City this weekend. The 7-foot Minneapolis native might be caught on video crossing over another defender, but he’s not doing it for the attention – and remains humble about his rise to stardom.
“It was a crazy summer full of basketball,” Holmgren said. “I just tried to take it one step at a time and perform in the moment – and not stress about future events. So, I don’t become overwhelmed.”