Chet Holmgren is ready to bring a unique skill set to the NBA

Sarah Holmgren said she’s not an emotional person, but on the night of the NBA draft lottery, she found herself obsessed with ping-pong balls and clinging to every open envelope with the team order.

It was understandable. Those ping-pong balls and envelopes were the key to her son’s future, Chet Holmgren, a tall 7-foot Minnehaha Academy graduate and potential first overall pick.

“You tell your kids from day one to study hard, work hard, think about their future – and then it comes down to four ping-pong balls,” she said.

If she was excited on lottery night, Sarah has no idea how she’ll act when Thursday night rolls around and either the Orlando Magic, who have the first pick, or another team at the top, decides her son’s fate.

“My #1 goal is to keep it together and not turn into a puddle of mud,” Sarah said.

On Thursday, for Holmgren, one road ends and another begins. Despite his height, Holmgren lived up to expectations at every stage of his young career. He had been in the spotlight for several years now, from his first few years at the Minnehaha Academy as the top recruit in his class to one year at Gonzaga.

Despite this pressure on his lanky shoulders, he survived until Thursday night, where Orlando or Oklahoma City would likely make him first or second overall.

Of course, there is an additional layer of uncertainty for Holmgren on Thursday that not every top pick faces. Orlando could reunite Holmgren with his friend and Minnehaha teammate Jalen Suggs, which would give the cold-blooded Minnesotans an extra incentive to visit Florida in the middle of winter.

“That would be a delight. That’s all I can say,” said Lance Johnson, Minnehaha Academy coach. Orlando, Oklahoma City. Wherever he is. It’s so cool. But the fact that they both play together again in the same city will be something special.”

That opportunity became more real when Orlando reached his 14 percent chance of winning the top pick, making lottery night even more intense and exciting for his family.

“Well, of course, it would be great if he played with Jalen,” said Sarah Holmgren. “They’re good friends and they’ve been talking to each other since second or third grade about playing in the league together… But we all understand that’s not what’s going to be the driving force behind it.”

Chet Holmgren has a press conference call scheduled for Tuesday. In an interview with ESPN, he said he talked quite a lot with Suggs about moving to the NBA.

“He said try to slow down the game as quickly as possible, because everyone at this level plays slowly, even with seven seconds on the timer, no one is in a hurry,” said Chet Holmgren. “Everyone knows that seven seconds is a lot of time – in the NBA, you can get almost two more actions during this time. [time]. Other guidance, like advice on NBA style of play.”

Grassroots Sizzle reunion?

The Holmgrens prepare for Chet not staying with Suggs. Those who spend time reading fictitious drafts know that this may not happen as several media outlets predict Auburn’s Jabari Smith will eventually move to the Magic and Holmgren will slide to Oklahoma City.

Brian Sandifer, head of AAU’s Grassroots Sizzle program in which Suggs and Holmgren played, was confident that they would end up with Magic in the end. Their chemistry can easily go to the next level.

“If you watch a movie about him and Jalen Suggs playing pick and roll, you will see that they are playing at an elite level,” Sandifer said.

Holmgren’s offensive and defensive abilities are teased, with Holmgren’s father, Dave, saying that Chet will showcase far more skill than he was able to with Gonzaga. The only obvious issue is something that Holmgren has been hearing about for a while: his physique and strength.

“It doesn’t matter what the teams say, what they say on Twitter or anyone else,” said Dave Holmgren. “…He is working on his body and his body will develop over time. In the meantime, he will just keep doing it, and everything will work out.

It’s because of Chet’s work ethic that thrives when someone challenges him, Sarah Holmgren said.

“He’s not the type to hear the word ‘no,'” Sarah Holmgren said. “People tell him that he can’t do something, that he will do his best to prove that he can. That’s his personality.”

Tall and tough

According to Johnson, his current physique is not indicative of Holmgren’s toughness.

Johnson said he often worried about Holmgren not telling the truth about the injury so he could continue playing, such as once when he suffered a groin injury but stayed in the game.

“Even though he has a lean build, he was one of the strongest players I’ve ever had in terms of ability to withstand injury,” Johnson said. “I was more worried that he didn’t tell us when he was hurt… He got spanked a lot.”

The NBA will certainly do enough for 82 games or more.

Holmgren told ESPN he kept his motivational goals “to himself” but said, “I see my potential as a very high level basketball player. We are aiming for this, and I think I will achieve this.”

During the draft lottery, he told an NBA Today panel, “I think I could be a 50-40-90 player,” referring to someone who shoots 50% from the field, 40% from three-pointers, and 90% from free throws. throw line.

The trial draft process is almost complete. The teams poked and prodded every inch of Holmgren and his game. Johnson said he answered questions from the teams, which even mentioned Holmgren’s favorite film.

“They ask all kinds of questions about him,” Johnson said. “… I don’t know what his favorite movie is.”

After Thursday, there will be the satisfaction of just being in the league to be able to play basketball all the time.

“He’s so driven and for him, being in the gym is where he’s at peace,” Sarah Holmgren said. “It’s a stress reliever. To get to the point where he can do it full time, he enjoys every minute of it.”

It doesn’t matter where he spends all those future minutes.

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