No. 1 Prep Prospects of 2021, 2022 Engage in Showdown for the Ages
In the socially distanced Concordia University gym in Ann Arbor, Mich., the atmosphere surrounding the much-hyped matchup between Chet Holmgren's Team Sizzle (Minn.) and Emoni Bates' Ypsilanti Prep (Mich.) was understated compared to highly anticipated high schools games in the recent past.
The two players everyone came to see, however, did not disappoint.
Team Sizzle—Holmgren's AAU team—won the exhibition game, but both Holmgren and Bates lived up to the hype by turning in impressive stat lines and making highlight-worthy plays.
Holmgren, ranked as the nation's top recruit in the class of 2021, is a 7-foot, 190-pound center with guard-like skills and and excellent shot-blocking ability. He finished the night with 31 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks. During the ESPN2 broadcast of the game, ESPN's national recruiting director Paul Biancardi compared Holmgren's game to "Kristaps Porzingis, with a better handle."
In June, Holmgren trimmed his list to seven schools: Michigan, Minnesota, Gonzaga, Ohio State, Georgetown, North Carolina and Memphis.
Bates, a 6-9 wing, is the top-ranked player in the 2022 class. He has "Kevin Durant-like skills," according to The Athletic's Brian Bennett, and is committed to Michigan State. There's a chance Bates could try to reclassify and join the Spartans for the 2021-22 season, or he could bypass college altogether and go the professional route (either overseas or in the G League). He put his skill set on full display on Thursday, finishing the night with 36 points, including four 3-pointers, with 10 rebounds.
Though the two prep stars play different positions, they found themselves guarding each other on occasion, including one play that ended with Holmgren blowing past Bates in the backcourt and finishing with a two-handed slam:
If Bates reclassifies and keeps his commitment to Michigan State and Holmgren ends up in the Big Ten, these two will likely square off next season in conference play. If not, we'll have to wait for their NBA paths to cross to see the rematch.