Holmgren, considered one of the front-runners to go first overall in the June 23 draft, brings to the NBA a unique skill set of 3-point shooting, lob catching and shot-blocking that has long inspired imaginations of league executives.
“After a season where we accomplished a lot of great things as both a team and an individual, I feel like I’m in a position to be able to chase my lifelong dream to play in the NBA,” Holmgren told ESPN.
Holmgren’s arrival in the NBA draft has been highly anticipated for several years as front offices closely watched his development as a high school star in Minnesota. The opportunity to go No. 1 overall has been part of the conversation surrounding Holmgren since his days at Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis.
“I understand basketball is a business and going No. 1 doesn’t mean nearly as much as finding a good fit and the right situation,” Holmgren told ESPN. “At the end of the day, I’m hoping for whatever is best for me and my future, and if that’s at No. 1, then that’s great.”
Holmgren, 19, averaged 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.7 blocks for Gonzaga. Holmgren shot 60% from the field and 39% on 3-pointers. Holmgren said he told the Gonzaga coaches to “coach him hard” during his season there, and believes he benefited immensely from the experience with a deeply talented roster and a Hall of Fame-caliber coach, Mark Few.
For now, Holmgren plans to immerse himself in a training regimen to strengthen his body and skills.
“My goal every day is to do everything I can to become the best I can be,” Holmgren said. “I’m doing that with my pre-draft training — in the weight room getting stronger, tightening up my [ballhandling], my shooting, and becoming more accustomed to handling an NBA style of game. Summer league will be my first opportunity to showcase that.
“I take great pride in doing what I am asked to do to try and win. On the next level, I know there will be more [floor] space and freedom and a different style of basketball, and I’m really excited to get used to it and play in that style.”