Chet Holmgren tops Emoni Bates in battle of No. 1 hoops recruits

12:54 PM ET


Eric Voudyardespen

Chet Holmgren hadn’t answered many calls for his national television debut against first class Emony Bates, but one man had to answer the phone early Thursday.

It was the rapper Sada Baby from Detroit, who also won ESPN’s first A senior basketball player, even on a trip to Los Angeles.

Do your job and go there and take 17 blocks, said Holmgren, told the rapper.


I wanted to get 30 [points], damn it, Holmgren said. So I brought it up.

Holmgren not only finished 31 points, but also led his AAU team, Team Sizzle, for the Bates Ypsi Prep Academy 78-71 in a practice match at Concordia University’s Cardinal Fieldhouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He also had 12 rebounds and six blocks.

Holmgren said the confrontation with Bates yielded the best five-star recruits of the battle.

If you’re an opponent like me, you always want to play against the best, says Holmgren, who goes to the Minneapolis Academy in Minneapolis. And it’s the best of the best, the crème de la crème. He played a great game tonight, but luckily we were able to win tonight and it’s always a special experience.

Holmgren, a 1.80m forward with a weight of 90kg, is currently not registered, but has said that he wants to play at university level.

I definitely want to go to university next year, Holmgren said. And now I’ve eliminated seven schools: Minnesota, Michigan, Memphis, Georgetown, North Carolina, Ohio and Gonzaga. So I’m looking into it now, trying to figure it out.

Bates made his debut Thursday night at the Ypsi Prep Academy after his first two seasons at Lincoln High School in Ipsilanti, Michigan, where he won the state title in his freshman year in 2019. His father, Elgin, started preparing the school this autumn and is also the head coach. Jaden Akeens, the signatory of the state of Michigan, is also part of the team.

Bates ended the game with 36 points and 10 rebounds with 11 of 22.

It was a good experience. Bates mentioned the confrontation with Halmgren. We are both number one and competitive. We’ve improved each other. That’s all that matters, and we were competing. It’s part of the process.

Bates currently works in the state of Michigan, but he says he may consider upgrading to Class 2021.

Yes, it was under consideration, said Bates, who has been the number one Spartan candidate since ESPN’s recruitment database began in 2007. My family and I talked about it. I’m just going to prepare the season, see how it goes and in the future I’ll make a decision.

While Bates thought about his future in basketball, he continued to recruit elite talents like Akinns, who joined him on campus when he finally played for Spartan coach Tom Izzo.

Jaden is a very special player to me, so I keep trying to let people go, just in case I really think about going, Bates said. There’ll be people, dogs, but Jaden’s very good. He got a couple of big hits today. He just needs to feel comfortable. It’s a novelty for everyone. They haven’t played in a while, so we need to get back in peace.

For Bates and Holmgren, the goal of the season is simply to become better basketball players, but they also understand the concept of branding at a young age. Bates has over 350,000 Instagram fans and is friends with NBA star Kevin Durant, who told him to keep sharpening and stay in the gym.

Besides staying in touch with Sada Babi, two of Holmgren’s teammates, Gersey and Miller Miller, are the sons of rap magnate Master P, who, according to Holmgren, will teach him the importance of entrepreneurship.

There’s no end to it. A great family, great people, and we are happy to have them as part of the family, said Mr. Holmgren. I beat Master P in a shooting match. He beat me too. We still have a tiebreaker to reach.

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