Wednesday, the 2020-21 Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year winner was announced.
The announcement came with a surprise presentation for this year’s recipient.
While honoring the nation’s most elite high school athletes, Gatorade revealed that this year’s No. 1 overall college basketball recruit, who committed to Gonzaga back in April, Chet Holmgren of Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis, Minn., has earned the prestigious award.
The 7-foot high school senior earned the honor for his actions both on and off the court.
And this wasn’t just any award presentation.
His former high school teammate, Jalen Suggs, virtually surprised Holmgren with the news.
Suggs presented the award to Holmgren as his teammates, coaches, and family handed him the trophy.
The former Gonzaga guard, who has already begun his pre-draft preparation, is expected to be a top-five lottery pick in this year’s NBA draft.
He also knows Holmgren better than most.
The two became one of the best point guard-power forward pairs in high school basketball in 2019.
Suggs says, “it was an honor” to present the award to Holmgren.
Holmgren told NBCSNW, “it was definitely very special to be presented with such a prestigious award by a longtime friend and teammate.”
This past season, before Gonzaga fell to Baylor in the 2021 title game, Suggs was thought of as the missing piece to help the Bulldogs contend.
Now with Suggs heading to the NBA, the Zags will look to his former high school teammate.
Holmgren can’t wait to get started.
And he’s so thankful to have received the Gatorade Player of the Year award.
“It’s a great honor for me. Not only because it’s such a prestigious award and I can add it to my resume, but also, because Gatorade is actually partnering with me to help give back and do some charity on my behalf and give back to a youth sports organization that’s close to home.”
The Gatorade Player of the Year achievement recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high academic achievement.
The winners are evaluated and selected based on these three factors:
Athletic Excellence - Standout performance in their respective sport made at the high school, club, national or international levels of competition.
Academic Achievement - Review of GPA and class rank, as well as SAT and ACT scores, and academic honors distinctions.
Exemplary Character - Commitment to sportsmanship, character and community through membership and participation in positive activities.
A national panel of sport-specific experts and sports journalists helped to select Holmgren out of nearly half a million high school basketball players nationwide.
As a senior, Holmgren led the Redhawks to a 20-1 record.
The year ended with a Class AAA state championship after Holmgren averaged 20.8 points, 12.6 rebounds, 4.7 blocks and 4.4 assists while connecting on 68.2 percent of his field-goal attempts.
The future Zag also maintained a 3.46 GPA in the classroom.
Now, as the projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft, Holmgren has his sights set on bringing even more success to the mid-major school out of Spokane, Washington.
“I don’t come into any game expecting to lose.”
With Holmgren getting ready to follow in Suggs’ footsteps, the two reminisced about growing up playing basketball together.
Back to where it all started in grade school.
There’s no doubt that Holmgren has come a long way since his khaki shorts playing days.
Which he noted with a big smile after finding out that Suggs had shared that story.
He also added with a smile:
“They were cargo shorts.”
From the sound of it, Gonzaga has not only found another elite basketball player, they’ve also found yet another gem of a human being.
Suggs summed it up perfectly:
“Everyone knows [Chet’s] an amazing basketball player, but I think the part that everybody needs to know is that off the court he is just as great of a person, if not better.”