Photo: Alex Conover Prep Hoops MN

Posted On: 02/7/21 12:20 PM

This week Prep Hoops got a back to back look at two of the more unique high school basketball players in the nation, Chet HolmgrenChetHolmgren7'0" | CMinnehaha Academy | 2021State#1NationMN and Paolo BancheroPaoloBanchero6'10" | PFO'Dea | 2021State#3NationWA.  What separates Chet and Paolo from the rest of the players in the country?  How do they compare with one another?  We take a 5 pointed (star) look at two future professionals.  

Paolo BancheroPaoloBanchero6'10" | PFO'Dea | 2021State#3NationWA

Point 1. Unique.   Both Chet and Paolo are extremely unique.  In addition to being highly talented and productive they can do things that are rare.  Chet has a competitive edge that you see in seven footers about once every ten years.  There are few seven footers on the planet to begin with and finding seven footers that want to get on the court and crush you with a smile on their face might be the rarest gift of all.  Add in Chet’s skill level at seven feet, agility in his frame, and his ability to completely take over a game defensively and you have a guy that basketball’s rarely seen.  

Paolo is 6-foot-9 and 235 pounds.  He physically looks ready to be a first round draft pick in the NFL or NBA and moves like a professional athlete as well.  What makes him so unique is Banchero has one of the smoothest skill sets you will see, and it comes from a massive frame.  Most players Paolo’s size are low post monsters with no skill or developing skill.  What Banchero can do with a gorgeous quick release has me looking forward to his future plans.  Watching Banchero on Friday afternoon, he appears to be a team first guy who races up and down the floor fighting in a defensive stance (another rare item for an elite big). Size, skills, and leadership are all there. 

Point 2. Frame to Change the Game.  Most will look at Paolo and his 235 pound frame and automatically point to him. It makes sense, Banchero runs as well as anybody on the floor and is amazingly quick off his feet.  The body control to sprint, catch, and quickly get off his feet into a balanced finish make for a great highlight. Paolo’s second and third bounce are unstoppable.  Meanwhile, the uneducated basketball fans will look at Chet’s thin frame and make ridiculous jokes about him not being able to play in the physical Big Ten or Holmgren getting mauled in the post by third string NBA centers.  Those people don’t understand that Chet has maybe the most amazing game changing frame there is. 

Chet HolmgrenChetHolmgren7'0" | CMinnehaha Academy | 2021State#1NationMN will go down as the best shot blocker and defender I have ever seen.  I’m guessing 15 years from now many will say the same.  His hunger for blocks and shot contests is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.  And even more amazing is his timing as a shot blocker.  Rarely do you see a seven footer who covers ground one block to the next, who gets out to the arc to get consistent blocks, AND rarely fouls players.  Chet’s timing and understanding of space are true gifts.  Most teams Minnehaha Academy face won’t attempt double figure shots within five feet of the rim.  Chet wipes away lay-up attempts almost entirely.  In addition to his 7-8 blocks a game and the double figure shot contests he piles up, there is another number that doesn’t get measured and that’s the amount of times players just give up their attempt to go near the rim when Chet is patrolling.  Chet’s physical gifts of height and length make him the ultimate defensive weapon and I didn’t even talk about how he constantly limits teams to one shot attempt by clearing defensive boards and quickly sending an outlet the other way a dozen times a game. 



Point 3. Shooting Stroke.  When it comes to clean shooting strokes Banchero’s ranks with the best I have seen in the last several years.  Amazingly, Holmgren isn’t far behind.  Chet’s length results in a bit longer of an attempt but he’s 7-feet tall so it really doesn’t matter, nobody can contest his shots anyway.  Based on numbers I can find Chet and Paolo have consistently shot at 37 to 41 percent behind the arc for their young careers in high school and grassroots/summer/aau basketball.  BFL and Minnehaha Academy are very comfortable allowing their big talents to shoot four or five threes a game plus both can got at the rim and use their touch for scores.  Banchero’s pull-up jumper at the elbow resembled that of the top guards in terms of ease while Holmgren twice moved out of a multi-player trap from Wayzata and scored with touch off the glass.  

Point 4Elite Pieces.  Point four is very simply but it’s the backbone to the greatness of both players.  Banchero and Holmgren are both dominant rebounders. Banchero using his physical strength and Holmgren using his size to collect the ball above the rime routinely.  Each player is a fantastic passer highlighted by high post assists and Chet’s 80 foot baseball pass to a streaking teammate that would make Pat Mahomes jealous.  Ball handling?  You won’t find guys at their size that handle like them almost anywhere.  You would need to go to the NBA to see a 7-footer that can handle like Chet, and you won’t find many.  Scan the college game, there are few 235 pound players that can put the ball on the deck like Paolo.  The last part is their game IQ.  Both have a natural feel.  Holmgren’s positioning is elite while Banchero’s ability to lead as the hardest working player in practice is special. 

Point 5. Numbers to Marvel at Versus Good Teams.   Banchero’s BFL team defeated Minnesota Prep Academy 79-67 on the Grind Circuit in Arizona on Friday.  Facing a couple future high major 2022s on the wing/around the basket, Banchero put up 32 points on 11 of 19 shooting with 11 rebounds and four assists.  Paolo struggled at the foul line missing 7 of 15 attempts but the rest of his game was domination.  Meanwhile, on Friday, Holmgren’s Redhawks – the number one ranked Class AAA team in Minnesota – played the 4th ranked team in Class AAAA the Wayzata Trojans (the preseason ranked number one team in the state for Class AAAA).  The Redhawks won 70-63 led by Chet’s 19 points on 7 of 13 shooting (4 of 5 at the foul line) with an addition seven assists.  Holmgren also grabbed 18 rebounds and blocked eight shots.