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Would Holmgren Mean U NCAA Title?

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September 2, 2020

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Chet Holmgren, a popular choice by prep basketball gurus as the nation’s No. 1 player in the class of 2021, enters his senior year at Minnehaha Academy this week being a long way from choosing a college destination.

Whoever wins out will have an extraordinary player in the 7-foot multi-positional, multi-dimensional Minneapolis superstar. Holmgren is choosing from seven college possibilities: Georgetown, Gonzaga, Memphis, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina and Ohio State.  He has visited most of the schools but the pandemic has prevented him from seeing the Memphis and Michigan campuses, and he hasn’t been to North Carolina since eighth grade.

Do one or two schools lead the list right now? “No, everybody is kind of equal platform right now,” Chet’s father David Holmgren told Sports Headliners Monday.  “Still just kind of feeling everything out, watching (developments).  Things are changing daily at these schools.  The closer we get to actually graduating from high school is going to be a closer time to make that decision, I think.”

Will a program having NCAA championship potential in place prior to Chet’s arrival be a factor in his college choice?  “We haven’t really discussed that,” David said. “I think anywhere he goes that (winning the national championship) could be viable.  I am not trying to brag but he brings that kind of quality to a team.”

David said Chet’s college destination will be impacted by at least one factor involving complementary players. “They gotta have some bigs so that Chet doesn’t get thrown into the middle.  The middle is not his game.  I don’t want him anywhere where one guy gets hurt, now he’s gotta be the big. It won’t make sense.”

Chet is several pounds under 200 even after a summer of strengthening his body. Dad wants his son to play with big, physical teammates who can absorb much of the pounding near the basket.  David, a thin 7-footer himself when he played for the Gophers in the 1980s, predicted it could be four years before Chet weighs about 220 pounds.

Chet long ago became a YouTube favorite after video showed him dribbling past and dunking over Steph Curry at the NBA superstar’s 2019 summer camp.  Despite Holmgren’s height, he has extraordinary versatility including ball handling.  Both his shooting efficiency and range, along with his shot blocking, contribute to speculation he will play just one season of college basketball.

Cretin-Derham Hall coach Jerry Kline referred to him as unique. “He’s just a phenomenal player and he’s only going to get better,” Kline told Sports Headliners earlier this summer.

Minnehaha will be among the elite teams nationally.  David said the school is finalizing a schedule to bring great teams from out of state to Minneapolis.  Opponents will likely include California power Sierra Canyon, a team Minnehaha upset last January.  “I think they want revenge,” David said. “At least an attempt at it.”

Worth Noting

The Vikings will open their season September 13 against the Packers without fans in attendance at U.S. Bank Stadium.  State of Minnesota COVID-19 policy allows up to 250 guests at an event like a Vikings game.  “The Vikings (though) 100 percent want fans,” a sports industry source told Sports Headliners.

He believes there is pressure from Vikings sponsors, including the most prominent supporters, to attend games.  State policy will allow 250 guests, plus players, coaches and workers, or a total of perhaps 500 people in the stadium.

The same source said it’s likely former Vikings chief operating officer Kevin Warren, now commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, has talked to club ownership or management about using U.S. Bank Stadium for a potential late fall and winter Big Ten football schedule.  U.S. Bank stadium is one of three regional domed sites (also Detroit’s Ford Field and Indy’s Lucas Oil Stadium) that could be indoor hubs for Big Ten games during the pandemic.

There is speculation about starting Big Ten football near Thanksgiving, November 26.  That time frame could cause a pushback from the Vikings regarding stadium use including necessitated changes to the playing field while accommodating a schedule of Big Ten games. Complicating things is the Vikings having a busy close to the season in Minneapolis with home games scheduled November 22, 29, December 6 and 20, plus potential playoff dates.

Ties between the Big Ten and U.S. Bank Stadium are already happening with the facility management preparing a bid to host a future league championship game(s). Lucas Oil Stadium has been the game’s exclusive home since 2011 and will host the championship through next year, but Warren is interested in other sites.

While other cities and playing sites have also expressed interest, including Green Bay’s Lambeau Field, Minneapolis and U.S. Bank Stadium could be viewed most favorably.  The facility is a consensus choice as being among the best football stadiums in the country and the city has a track record of success in hosting major events like the Super Bowl and NCAA Final Four.

Bengals running back Joe Mixon—comparable to RB Dalvin Cook who is in a contract squabble with the Vikings—reportedly received a new four-year $48 million deal yesterday. Cook’s present contract is believed to be worth about $40 million less.

Harvey Mackay

Minneapolis businessman and New York Times best selling author Harvey Mackay devotes his nationally syndicated newspaper column this week to women in sports while quoting leaders such as former Gophers basketball coach Pam Borton and Twins executive Laura Day. Headlined “Sports Prepare Women for Life, Business,” Mackay was inspired to write the column after viewing a Twin Cities Dunkers meeting this summer.

Longtime amateur baseball player Dan Hennen has a podcast preview of the Sweet 16 teams in this week’s Class C State Amateur Baseball Tournament. https://youtu.be/dYFKolCs1MY

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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