Former Gonzaga University point guard Jalen Suggs awarded fellow Minnesota player and GU recruit Chet Holmgren with the National Gatorade Player of The Year Award earlier today.
This award recognizes both athletic and academic achievement for high schoolers in sports. Earning this achievement for his character and skill, he has been recognized as the nation’s best high school men’s basketball player.
Holmgren now stands among previous recipients such as basketball legends Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.
“The basketball piece, you know, is one thing,” Suggs said in a follow-up press conference. “It is great, easy, everyone knows he’s an amazing player, but, you know, I think the best part that everybody needs to know is that off the court, he’s just as great a person.”
Suggs surprised Holmgren at the ceremony by being the one to present his award.
“It caught me a little by surprise,” Holmgren said. “I kind of knew coming in what the event stuff was about but, you know, to see Jalen hop on the Zoom call and be able to have a few words and present me with the trophy was actually pretty cool to receive it from a close friend.”
Holmgren was previously chosen as the best player in his state. Gatorade’s selection committee then reviewed him along with the rest of the top men’s basketball athletes for the national honor.
His competition was tough, as he went up against boys that had previously won the state award and boasted impressive careers. However, the selection committee chose him for a multitude of reasons.
In terms of his skill, Holmgren led his former high school — Minehaha Academy — through a record of 20-1 this past season, as well as earning them the Class AAA state championship. He was a McDonald’s All-American Game selection, and he earned the 2021 Naismith High School Trophy Player of the Year.
He averaged 20.8 points alone this past season in addition to his 12.6 rebound, 4.7 block, and 4.4 assist averages.
Holmgren was universally recognized as the No.1 college basketball recruit among news networks.
His accomplishments extend far outside the court. Holmgren was an active member in Minehaha Academy’s Leadership Institute, volunteered at the FrogTown Boys and Girls Club as a youth basketball instructor, and participated in goodwill/mentorship visits to younger classrooms at his school. He finished high school with a 3.46 GPA as well.
“Chet Holmgren was the greatest mismatch in the high school game this past season because of his outside shooting, inside game and physical measurables,” said ESPN National Recruiting Director Paul Biancardi. “At 7-foot-1 and owning an enormous wingspan, he’s a world-class shot blocker. He displays uncommon versatility with his scoring ability, ball-handling, court mobility and footwork. He’s a tremendous teammate and a young man who is humble and respectful, while still playing with an edge. His time at Gonzaga should put him in contention to be the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.”
Presenting the award to a past teammate, as both attended and played for Minehaha Academy, Suggs felt immensely proud of Holmgren.
“I can’t wait to see him grow and learn just as much as I did under Few and Mike and the whole coaching staff there and just watch his game develop, his mental develop, become an even better leader and a better person,” Suggs said.