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Minnesota losing elite basketball recruits to out-of-state schools

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On Monday, five-star center Chet Holmgren announced his commitment to Gonzaga. In doing so, he joined a long list of elite high school players who have left the state of Minnesota for bigger basketball programs.

Holmgren is the No. 1 overall player in the 2021 signing class, per the industry-generated 247Sports Composite rankings. The Minneapolis native will play his college career with the Bulldogs in Spokane as he departs his home state. After his commitment, ESPN Stats and Info pointed out that more than a few of the country’s top recruits have come from Minnesota in recent years. Unfortunately for the Golden Gophers, none of them have stayed at home.

Holmgren is one of six elite recruits since 2007 who have left Minnesota for more high-profile programs in college basketball, none of which were in the Big Ten. Jalen Suggs, a star for Gonzaga this past season, played for the same high school program as Holmgren and was the No. 11 overall player in the 2020 signing class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. Matthew Hurt, who went to Duke as the No. 12 overall player in the 2019 class, is from Rochester, Minn.

In the 2017 signing class, Tre Jones was the No. 15 overall player and came out of St. Paul. He wound up going to Duke for his college career. Jones’ older brother, Tyus, was the 247Sports Composite’s No. 8 overall player in 2014, and he wound up with the Blue Devils as well. The 2007 recruiting class featured Cole Aldrich, who was the No. 23 overall player, and he played his college basketball at Kansas.

Two Big Ten teams, Minnesota and Ohio State, were in the running for Holmgren, but it didn’t work out for either of those teams. According to 247Sports analyst Eric Bossi, Holmgren was unable to take official and unofficial visits to his final seven schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he was able to visit Gonzaga, Ohio State and Minnesota prior to the pandemic limiting recruiting.

Brandon Jenkins, a recruiting analyst for the 247Sports network, gave an evaluation on Holmgren back in January of 2021. Jenkins projects Holmgren to be a top 10 pick in the NBA when he turns pro and compared him to Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis.

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“Holmgren is as unique of a prospect as there has ever been in the national recruiting database era,” Jenkins wrote. “Standing 7-feet tall with phenomenal length, Holmgren is a true game changer on the defensive end with his rim protection. He is the best shot-blocker in the country and definitely the best shot-blocker I have seen in high school basketball. He additionally is one of the most versatile players in the senior class and while he fills the stat sheet in multiple categories and is extremely productive, his upside is still immense.

“He impacts the game in so many areas and plays with a huge chip on his shoulder. Even though his defense is ahead of his offense, he has elite ball skills on the perimeter as he can handle and shoot the basketball like a combo guard. Holmgren has the potential to be a generational talent with his unreal long-term tools. Eight months in a college weight training program will serve him well. His upside is clearly in his body as he needs to add weight and get stronger.”

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