Chet Holmgren has heard the chant a few times this season from opposing fans: “Over-rated!”
The lanky 7-foot freshman always has an answer, usually in the form of a thunderous dunk, 3-pointer or swatted shot into the stands.
“You hear it, but at the same time you're pretty locked in,” Holmgren said after finishing with 21 points, 15 rebounds and six blocked shots in a recent win over San Francisco.
A highly touted prospect when he arrived in Spokane, Washington, Holmgren didn't dominate as expected early in his freshman season. Wanting to fit into Gonzaga's team-oriented game, he often deferred to teammates, occasionally at the expense of passing up a good shot.
As the season has progressed, so has Holmgren's assertiveness. He's dominated at times, showing off the rare skill set that has him projected to be among the top three picks in the next NBA draft, possibly No. 1.
"He is just very, very skilled," San Diego coach Sam Scholl said. "He has a tremendous feel. He is physical. He is not afraid to bang.”
Though just 195 pounds, Holmgren holds his own in the paint against heavier players and uses his long wing span to swat away and change shots at the rim. He finished the regular season with 3.59 blocked shots per game, fourth nationally.
But what sets Holmgren apart is his skill set, which is more like a guard's than a 7-footer. He's an excellent perimeter shooter — 44% from 3 — and has the ballhandling skills to create his own shot. Holmgren has great footwork in the post and his long frame allows him to dunk from unexpected places.
"Chet is a very confident player but he does a great job team-wise, as far as figuring out what they’re giving us and doing that,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.
SIZE: 7-foot, 195 pounds.
STATS: 14.7 points on 62% shooting, 9.8 rebounds, 3.5 blocks, 44% 3-point shooting.
STRENGTHS: Incredibly skilled for a 7-footer, a good shooter from the perimeter and midrange. Has excellent footwork in the post and able to finish with either hand. Has a great feel for the game and is an excellent passer. Dominates on the defensive end with his long reach and anticipation.
WEAKNESSES: Slight frame could lead to him getting pushed around on the block and limit his ability to finish through contact in the NBA. Typically good against double teams, though he can run into trouble when he puts the ball on the floor. Also lacks some lateral quickness while defending smaller players on the perimeter.
DRAFT PROJECTION: Top-three pick, possibly No. 1.
Other prospects around the mid-majors:
Patrick Baldwin Jr., Wisconsin-Milwaukee. A 6-foot-9 five-star recruit, Baldwin had offers to play at high-major schools but decided to join his father in Milwaukee. Baldwin has good mobility for his size and is a good shooter despite shooting 26% from 3 this season. He was limited to 11 games due to injuries.
David Roddy, Colorado State. A sturdy 6-6 forward, the Rams junior is a good shooter who can post up smaller players. Roddy is averaging 19.4 points and 7.8 rebounds while shooting 57% from the floor, including 47% from 3.
Jordan Hall, Saint Joseph's. A 6-7 sophomore, Hall has an excellent all-around game, averaging 14.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game. He's a solid outside shooter and sees the floor exceptionally well.
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