Former Gonzaga standout Chet Holmgren watches GU-LMU game from courtside seat
Feb. 16, 2023 Updated Thu., Feb. 16, 2023 at 11:12 p.m.
Chet Holmgren joins his former team in celebration after the Gonzaga Bulldogs defeated the Loyola Marymount Lions during the second half of a college basketball game on Thursday, Feb 162023, at Gersten Pavillian in Los Angeles, Calif. Gonzaga won the game 108-65. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)Buy a print of this photo
LOS ANGELES – Chet Holmgren took care of some business on Thursday and then became a fan hours later, watching alma mater Gonzaga thump Loyola Marymount 108-65 from a courtside seat at Gersten Pavilion.
“It worked out perfectly,” Holmgren said. “I had a little commercial shoot out here this morning, and I learned Gonzaga was playing here tonight so I couldn’t miss it.”
Holmgren had only been in the gym for a minute or two when he was approached by a group of Gonzaga fans who made the trip from Montana. He posed for pictures with the Montanans and was then escorted toward Gonzaga’s locker room about 30 minutes before tipoff. When he returned to his seat across from Gonzaga’s bench, he posed for numerous pictures and then gave GU forwards Julian Strawther and Ben Gregg a hug just before the start of the game.
Holmgren has kept up with the team from afar, texting with players and coaches and watching games on television.
“Like normal, they’re a really good team,” Holmgren said. “They’re always a high-powered offense, that’s pretty much what the Zags are known for. It’s great to see Drew (Timme) holding it down year after year like he is. They’re starting to mesh well together, and I just see that getting better as the season goes on.”
The 7-foot Holmgren played one season at Gonzaga before becoming the highest NBA draft pick in program history. He was selected second overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder last June, but he suffered a Lisfranc injury to his right foot contesting LeBron James’ shot near the basket at the CrawsOver Pro-Am in Seattle in August.
He had surgery in late August and will be sidelined for his rookie season, but he said his recovery is on track.
“I’m doing great,” he said. “I’m taking it day to day. I haven’t had any setbacks. I’m not feeling any pain, so I couldn’t ask for a better situation with an injury I guess.”
Holmgren nearly averaged a double-double last season – 14.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game – and shattered Gonzaga’s single-season blocks record with 117. GU finished 28-4 last season after falling to Arkansas in the Sweet 16.
“It was just awesome to have Chet around,” Zags coach Mark Few said. “He’s such a bolt of energy and just a fun guy. We’re all so proud of him and he’s in good spirits now. That’s great to see.”
Holmgren had to like what he saw early on as Timme, Julian Strawther and Nolan Hickman swatted shots as Gonzaga sprinted in front 25-5. Holmgren stood up and hollered “Hey Ju” after Strawther buried his fourth 3-pointer of the first half to extend Gonzaga’s lead to 52-20. He rose to his feet and celebrated when Malachi Smith’s dunk in the closing seconds gave Gonzaga a 68-28 halftime lead.
Strawther hit the game-winning 3-pointer against BYU last month with former Zag star Jalen Suggs in attendance at the Marriott Center. Strawther made six 3s and scored 28 points in the rout over LMU.
“In pregame Chet told me that he’s here and I have to do something,” Strawther said. “I told him I’d try my best and I feel like put my best foot forward.”
Said Few: “I told Chet, ‘Let’s stay in touch as we move farther along and see if you’re available” to come to future games.
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