The last AAU season for Jalen Suggs is just getting started this spring – and he's excited to make it a memorable one.
The five-star Minnehaha Academy junior guard also appreciates the attention he's getting from the hometown Gophers and coach Richard Pitino, who met with Suggs for an in-home visit earlier this month.
"They’re the hometown, and it’s where my family and friends are," Suggs said. "They’ll always be in the mix. They’re headed in the right direction."
Five-star Rochester John Marshall senior Matthew Hurt picked Duke last week, but that won't influence Suggs on whether he'll consider staying home.
"That’s his decision," Suggs said of Hurt. "That’s something he talked with his family about. That’s something he felt was right for him. Me and him are different people. He has his own opinions and I have mine. We’ll see when it comes down to my decision."
Suggs will play in the second session in the Under Armour Association circuit with Grassroots Sizzle on Friday through Sunday in Kansas City. The Sizzle finished 2-1 in the first UAA session in Chicago in mid-April, which included breakout performances from Suggs and 7-foot sophomore and fellow Gophers target Chet Holmgren.
In a Q&A with the Star Tribune, Suggs talked about his development, the Gophers showing progress, possibly teaming up with buddies from Team USA in college and more:
You look like you’re in better shape this season. What’s been the difference?
I feel like I’ve taken care of my body real well throughout the transition from football to basketball. I think that really helped and made a big difference. Being able to have that explosiveness and that extra kick when I’m driving or playing defense definitely helps a lot. I’ve improved my stamina and that’s helped. Working my overall game also helps in all aspects as well.
What did you talk to Pitino and the Gophers about during their home visit recently?
He kind of steered away from not just talking about basketball but just how things are going right now. When I’m talking to a coach I’m building a relationship. I don’t just want to talk basketball 24-7. He switched it up and kept it real with me. He was just able to have a conversation and make it a good time. I really like that. I definitely will be continuing to develop our relationship, because it’s the hometown. Everyone would love to see it. We’ll see where that goes, but right now I’m just going to continue to enjoy the process.
Did Pitino making the NCAA tournament and beating Louisville make you feel better about the Gophers?
Yeah for sure. They’re definitely going in the right direction. They have a lot of good things going on. They have a great recruiting class last year. They have a good class coming in this year, especially with my cousin, Tre’ (Williams). That’s another close relationship that I have there. They’re the hometown and it’s where my family and friends are. They’ll always be in the mix. They’re headed in the right direction.
What schools are looking at you the hardest right now?
There’s a few like Iowa, Marquette, Gonzaga, Minnesota. There are several more coming in and making me feel like a priority. Just tough to list all of them right now.
What are you focusing on in recruiting this spring?
I’d say just building stronger relationships with coaches who have been there throughout the process. So when it’s time to strengthen that relationship, I can make the best decision for me and my family.
When will you make your next official visit?
I’m not sure. I don’t really have any planned right now. I don’t have the most time in the world at the moment. So I’m just taking it slow. As they come I’ll take them, but I’m just relaxing on that right now.
What was the Gonzaga official visit like in February?
Just the family feel and the whole environment was great. The way they play and all of that. I walked away trying to find negatives and things I didn’t like and I couldn’t really find any while I was there. It was a great time. I have a great relationship with those coaches. I’m going to continue to build that with them the next couple months.
How was your experience with USA basketball’s Next Generation event at the Final Four in town?
That was a really good time. Seeing all the guys and have them come up here to my home state was great. I played some good basketball while they were up here. That’s the best basketball I played in awhile I think. Having those guys around me, being able to learn and get a different experience was a good time.
Who are you closest with among the top players in the 2020 class?
I’m super close to (Jalen Green and R.J. Hampton). Ever since our first USA camp we’ve become really close and almost like brothers. But I’m really close to a lot of the guys: Isaiah Todd, Josh Christopher. B.J. Boston, Devin Askew. The list just goes on. We’re all good friends. We have the same goal in mind to compete at the highest level. That’s why we’re at those camps just trying to help each other do that.
Have you guys talked about teaming up in college?
Yeah definitely a little bit. Guys just want to win. We’ve been playing with and against each other for a long time now. We have a great relationship. Playing in college and definitely going through that whole experience would be a great time with any of the guys. That goes around and we talk about it a bit. At the end of the day, we’re all going to have to make the best decision for us and our families.
How much has your high school and AAU teammate Holmgren developed in the last year?
So much. He’s become so much more mature on the basketball court. He’s starting to handle himself real well. Seeing him develop and play the way he is right now is definitely cool to see. He’s becoming his own man and becoming a force.