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'It definitely means more': Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren preparing for USA U19 team debut

Holmgren also discussed his name, image, and likeness plans and his first few days at Gonzaga in a press conference this past weekend.

FORT WORTH, Texas — Unlike in years past, there aren’t a ton of Gonzaga players playing at the FIBA U19 World Cup Tournament. That’s due to the program shifting it’s recruiting focus away from international recruits and more towards domestic players. 

There is one person participating in the tournament though who’s making history for the Bulldogs. This past week Chet Holmgren became the first Gonzaga commit to dawn the stars and strips at the U19 level.

"My passport is brand new. It’s got my signature and that’s about it. I haven’t really gone outside of the country," said Holmgren to the media on Saturday.

What a way to make your first international trip. 

Chet Holmgren departed to Latvia today for the FIBA U19 World Cup tournament. 

In this past weekend's media availability he said that his Team USA selection means more than any national player of the year award he has won over the last few months.

"You’re competing against people over the course of a few days, and you’ve got to beat people out for a limited amount of spots. It definitely means more that I had to earn this in front of people, if that makes sense," said Holmgren.

It also just means more to Chet that he gets to represent Team USA. This is the first national team he’s been selected for. 

Thankfully he had some help going into tryouts via Jalen Suggs, who was on the last U19 team in 2019, but wasn’t committed to Gonzaga yet.

"He said it was a great experience, on and off the court. He’s made lasting friendships with guys that he’s friends with to this day. You learn a lot and you get to really see where you stack up, not only against the best guys in your country, but across the world really. It’s an opportunity he told me not to take for granted," said Holmgren.

Chet’s next opportunity stateside when he returns is to capitalize on name, image, and likeness rules that go into effect July 1st. 

He won’t be caught flat footed going into the new college landscape.

"There’s definitely been a game plan going back more than just the time that I’ve been here at USA and more than just the time that it came out officially that this was going to happen. But at the moment, that’s been kind of been pushed off to the side, and I’m putting all my focus towards this USA team and winning this gold," said the incoming freshman.

Before Chet went to Texas for Team USA tryouts, he did get a few days in at Gonzaga so that when he gets back, he’ll be ready to go. 

And yes, strength and conditioning coach Travis Knight did get his hands on Chet a few times before he departed.

"I got all moved in, got settled for the most part. I had a good amount of workouts throughout the week lifting with Coach TK. He wasn’t trying to kill me before I came out to USA. He was trying to figure out where I’m at and get a baseline. We’ll get to hit it really hard when I get back and get to work," said Holmgren.

Chet and Team USA have their first FIBA World Cup game in July 3 against Turkey at 7:30 AM. They’ll then finish out group play against Mali on July 4th at 10:30 AM and Australia on July 6th again at 10:30.

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