Jalen Suggs, a 6-foot-4, 198-pound junior guard from Minneapolis (MN) Minnehaha Academy, is one of the top guards in the Class of 2020 and is considered the number one prospect from Minnesota in the class. He is ranked #10 in the Class of 2020 by ESPN.
Suggs averaged 16.0 points per game last season as Minnehaha finished 28-4. The Redhawks won their second straight Class AA title, defeating Caledonia 73-60 as he scored 27 points. He scored in double figures in all but five games. Suggs had a season-high 36 in the team’s 73-68 win over Stevens Point.
Suggs led SMB (a combined team of St. Paul Academy, Maranatha and Blake) to a 13-0 record and a 44-18 win over Willmar in the Class AAAA Prep Bowl last month. He completed nine of 11 passes for 216 passing yards and three touchdowns, 67 rushing yards with a 23-yard score and two interceptions, including one he returned for 97 yards and another touchdown to lead the Wolfpack to their first ever state title.
Suggs has helped lead USA Basketball to consecutive gold medals the past two summers, winning the 2017 FIBA Americas Under 16 Championship and 2018 FIBA Under 17 World Cup. Suggs averaged 8.7 points and 2.7 assists per game to help the USA to a 7-0 record and gold medal in Santa Fe, Argentina last summer. The previous year, Suggs helped the USA to a 5-0 record and gold medal at the 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship.
Gopher Hole recently caught up with Suggs to talk about the latest on his recruitment, winning the state football title, junior season and playing for USA basketball.
Gopher Hole: You lost some key players like JaVonni (Bickham), Terry (Lockett) and some other key players from last year’s team. You also have some players who did not have as big of a role last year as they will this year, step up. How pleased are you with some of the younger guys?
Jalen Suggs: I’m very pleased. I think that they played well. Donovan (Smith) came off the bench. I think that he hit about four threes when we needed them. He can spot up. Great shooter. Chet (Holmgren) played a great game. Prince (Aligbe) great game. Got up and down the court. Kaden (Johnson), like I said, always does everything we need him to. He did a great job. I think everyone, going all the way down the line, did great. Great team win, like I said and just looking to build on it, moving on to next week.
Gopher Hole: You won the state football title recently. How does it compared to winning two basketball titles?
Jalen Suggs: Man, that football is different. Being that it was the first time in school history, the first time for me, it was extremely fun. Get that moment with my teammates. Nothing like it.
Gopher Hole: I saw on Twitter and Facebook, a lot of highlights of you and football. Do you ever watch some of those highlights and say “How did I do that?”
Jalen Suggs: Yes, I think I watched the MaxPreps one about 30, 40 times (laughing). Like I said, just looking at that and looking back at everything they we had gone through this season as a team and personally, it was great to end up on top.
Gopher Hole: Obviously, it is a combined effort with the schools with the schools (Minnehaha Academy, St. Paul Academy and Blake) since you guys aren’t big enough to have your own team. Does that make it even a little more special because you have guys who are teammates, but you don’t see many of them during school?
Jalen Suggs: Definitely. Although, we go to different schools, we come together every day. We really do forge a brotherhood. Everyone there is close, whether you are at Blake, SPA or Minnehaha and truly, we can’t do it without any of the schools. We wouldn’t have won it, period, so like I said, those guys are my brothers forever. Man, great season.
Gopher Hole: You are a junior this season. Does it feel weird because you have been around and playing high school basketball for three years already? Does it feel weird being a junior?
Jalen Suggs: Man, time goes by fast. I’ll say that. Like you said, I’m the upperclassmen. I’m the leader. Not just being the point guard, but I am the captain. I’m older, so what comes with that, comes responsibility, but I am ready to take it all on. I am a competitor. I do whatever my team needs me to do to be great and to win, so I can’t wait to get started with this season with these young guys and win us another state championship.
Gopher Hole: How about your offseason? You got to play a lot of AAU basketball and also had the chance to represent the United States. What was that experience like?
Jalen Suggs: Playing for USA, there is truly nothing like it. Coach Show (Don Showalter), Coach (Scott) Fitch and Coach (Stan) Waterman are three of the greatest coaches that I have ever played for. Their knowledge on the game. The type of people that they are. They are amazing and the group of guys that I was with. Man, can those guys play. Playing with them, it doesn’t compare. They are the best players in the United States and we showed that. Two times now. That is a great experience. I learned a lot being out there and bringing back here for these young guys
Gopher Hole: It is great to win for your hometown in football and basketball, but does it mean even more representing your country?
Jalen Suggs: USA. When you have those three letters across your chest and you are playing basketball, which is a game I love so much, there is nothing better. There are guys in the Army, who are fighting for our freedom. They are risking their lives and I am playing for the United States in a game that I love. I am extremely thankful. Trying to learn the best from the opportunity and I can’t wait to go back next year.
Gopher Hole: What is the latest on your college recruitment? How many offers are you up to? Do you even still keep track or is it too hard to even do that anymore?
Jalen Suggs: No, I don’t really keep track. I know that it is up there. I got some schools that I plan on visiting. I still have my five officials that I can take, so I am planning on going down and taking those. It is going to be a fun winter, coming to see those schools. Continuing to build a relationship with these coaches and continue my recruitment.
Gopher Hole: They changed the rule a few years ago that you can take official visits during your junior season. Do you like that since this way you can get as much information going into this summer?
Jalen Suggs: I really do, because this is one of the biggest decisions that I will make as a young man. With the transfer rule and you have to sit out, that is tough, so picking the right school is really important, so being able to take those five official visits as a junior, seeing the campus, even if there is one that you don’t like when you go down there and cut them out. Like I said, building a relationship seeing the coach in person. I really like that rule.
Gopher Hole: What schools do you definitely think you are going to visit? Have you gotten that far yet?
Jalen Suggs: I know I want to go down to UCLA, Arizona, West Virginia, Marquette, Kansas and a couple of others. Of course, I’ll be at Minnesota a lot, just on unofficials at the basketball games, just because it is here and I know a lot of those guys. Like I said, it is going to be a fun winter.
Gopher Hole: I know that you have been busy with football and basketball, but did you even had a chance to go to any college games, football or basketball, this fall?
Jalen Suggs: Not many. I just went down to Alabama for a football visit, but that was the only one I have taken.
Gopher Hole: Are you still hearing from school football-wise much?
Jalen Suggs: Oh, yes. The football recruitment is definitely picking up. Now that the season is starting to wind down for some teams, coaches are starting to make the trip up to school, so it is picking up. I still have a lot of interest. Starting to build relationships with coaches. Like I said, that is extremely fun, too. The decision is going to be tough.
Gopher Hole: I know a lot of basketball players who unfortunately quit playing football, due to basketball. Are you glad that stuck with it?
Jalen Suggs: Most, definitely. I’ve been playing this game since I was four years old. I’ve always had the ball in my hands. It’s a game I love. Just as much as basketball, so I couldn’t even imagine giving myself up, but I know one day I am going to have to come down and make a decision. I have started to think about it, prepare for it, but continuing to get better at each sport.
Gopher Hole: You mentioned the homestate school? Minnesota is starting two freshman, two kids that you kind of know, in Gabe Kalscheur and Daniel Oturu. Does that make you look at them as a school little bit harder because they are freshman just one year removed from high school and they are starting at a Big Ten level?
Jalen Suggs: Most, definitely. I have always had high interest in Minnesota. They are definitely high on my list. They are a place that I can go to pretty much, whenever I want to. The coaches are real welcoming. They are always inviting me to games. It is going to be fun continuing to build these relationships. Getting to see the guys flourish at the next level and getting down on campus.
Gopher Hole: Is it nice to know that no matter where you go, to be honest, you are going to get a great education and great sports experience? I know that it is going to be tough to say no to those other schools, but does that make it a little easier, knowing that you have a lot of great options?
Jalen Suggs: Definitely. All of these schools are willing to pay for my education. They are allowing me to play a sport there, so I am extremely grateful for that and for any school that offers me, no matter how small or how big. Given this opportunity. I have been extremely thankful for it. Doing a lot of thinking and praying into what I am going to do next and I know that God is going to guide me in the right direction,
Gopher Hole: Have you even thought about when you would try to decide to a school?
Jalen Suggs: I know for sure that I want to be committed by the beginning of my senior year, but like I said, that is a long ways away. We still got high school basketball season and AAU, so like I said, I am talking to counselors, my dad, coaches. Building relationships. When that time comes to make the decision, it will be done.
Gopher Hole: You mentioned AAU. You had a great year this year. What are the plans AAU-wise this upcoming summer?
Jalen Suggs: Still going to be with Team Sizzle. We still have a lot of guys coming back. We were really young last year and we are going to pick up a couple of new guys, so it is going to be fun. AAU is always a good time. Best competition. Playing the best guys in the country, so I would say it is a great time. Continuing to build a brotherhood with those guys on the team. Can’t wait for it.