Chet Holmgren leads 3 Minnesotans in Thursday night’s NBA draft

No. 34 Chet Holmgren of the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the first half of the second round of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Moda Center in Portland, OR on March 19, 2022. Holmgren in the first half against No. 2 Jalen Duren of the Memphis Tigers. ((Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images))

Chet Holmgren has been playing basketball since he was nine, and Thursday night, a lifelong dream will become a reality in the NBA draft.

Holmgren, a former Minnehaha Academy star, is the consensus top two. That means he’s most likely to end up with the Orlando Magic or the Oklahoma City Thunder. If he enters the Magic as the No. 1 overall pick, it would also mean he is teammates again with childhood friend Jalen Suggs.

“I’ve definitely talked to him. I’ve met him recently, not just talking about Orlando, and he’s given me a lot of advice about the NBA,” Holmgren said Monday via Zoom. “We talked a lot about the NBA and he gave me a lot of advice because he’s been there and he’s seen it.”

At 7-foot, 195 pounds, Holmgren was a one-game nightmare for most opponents. In 32 games with Gonzaga, he averaged 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game, becoming a Second Team All-American, a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year and a Naismith Cup 10 semifinalist one of the players.

He can score inside, pass from double-teams, shoot from the outside, and even dribble away defenders. In one season with Gonzaga, he shot 73.7 percent from the field, including 39 percent from the perimeter. His defensive presence and shot-blocking ability also make him a rim protector. He is most often compared to Kevin Durant.

His NBA dreams will come true Thursday night, and he’s already in New York City preparing for the moment he hears his name and shakes hands with NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

“This week has been absolutely insane. I think every kid can imagine it. But to actually be here, sitting in New York City a few days before the draft, has been an absolute blessing. I feel for it. Excited,” Holmgren said.

Holmgren, who wouldn’t say which teams he’s had pre-draft workouts with, was asked if he had a preference for where to go in the draft, knowing either Orlando or Oklahoma City.

“At the end of the day, it would be a complete blessing to own an NBA jersey and wear that hat on draft night, no matter where it is,” Holmgren said. “At the end of the day, it’s not up to me, wherever I land in the city, I’ll tie my shoes and get to work. I’m excited about that, wherever it is.”

Holmgren is also one of three people in Minnesota who may hear their names Thursday night, joining Kendall Brown and David Roddy.

Kendall Brown

Kendall Brown was a star at East Ridge before attending his final year of prep at Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas. The 6-foot-8, 205-pound guard played one season at Baylor and was named to the Big 12 rookie team. After averaging 9.7 points and 4.9 rebounds in 34 starts, he helped lead his players to the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Brown could be a mid-to-late first-round pick.

David Roddy

Minneapolis native David Roddy was a star athlete at Blake High School in Golden Valley before launching a successful career in Colorado. Rhodey was the Mountain West Player of the Year last season, averaging 19.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists. He’s a 6-foot-6, 255-pound forward who was once compared to Charles Barkley.

In high school, Roddy was a football and basketball standout and competed in track discus and shot put.

This year will be the third time in a row that Minnesota has multiple players in the NBA draft. Since 2015, the state has selected nine.

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