Fresh off winning his second gold medal with Team USA in Argentina, five-star 2020 point guard Jalen Suggs was one of the most heavily watched prospects as the July live recruiting period started last week.
It’s no secret Suggs is on the lookout for blue-blood coaches in attendance.
Kansas' Bill Self, North Carolina's Roy Williams, Kentucky's John Calipari and Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and their assistants were among the coaches to see Suggs play in the Under Armour Association Challenge in Atlanta.
The Minnehaha Academy junior said he’s planning to take unofficial visits to Duke, North Carolina and Kansas this fall.
“I haven’t gotten offers from them, but I talk to all those coaches and assistants,” Suggs told the Star Tribune. “Talking and gaining knowledge from them is great. It helps me in becoming a smarter player and building relationships – that has been my main focus right now. I believe the offers will come if I keep performing. I just have to stay in the gym and keep getting better and do what I do.”
Typically, the blue-blood schools wait to offer scholarships to sophomores. The No. 1 player in 2020, Jalen Green, doesn’t have from offers from Duke, Kentucky or North Carolina yet. But this is an important summer for Suggs and others in his class to prove they belong on that level.
“UCLA has been hitting me up a bit more the past couple weeks,” Suggs said. “Started hearing from North Carolina a lot since coaches have been calling. I’ve heard from (Duke assistant) Jon Scheyer. I got texts from Coach K before games when we were down in Argentina.”
Suggs and Green were roommates together at the U17 World Cup. Green, the tourney MVP, had a monster two-handed slam off a pass from Suggs from the floor after he dove for a loose ball. That was arguably one of the tournament’s top highlights.
“He makes me a lot better,” Suggs said of Green. “He’s a great scorer and a great athlete. He gets up and down the floor. We’re best friends and we talked a lot in our hotel room. I tell him when I’m at point (guard), ‘You just score and be aggressive.’ That’s what we did most of the tournament. I passed the ball out to him and he was knocking down shots. I made that my focal point to find him and get him shots.”
Imagine seeing that freshman backcourt tandem in college two years from now.
“We’ve talked about it a little bit,” Suggs said. “Me and him and a couple of the guys (on the World Cup team). But right now, the main focus is on getting better and competing with (our AAU teams).”
Suggs, who picked up an offer recently from Georgetown, rested for one game in Atlanta last week, but he averaged 15.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists, shooting 62 percent from the field in four games for Sizzle. His top performance was a 24-point game, making 14-for-14 free throws vs. Showtime Ballers.
After a few days rest back home, Grassroots Sizzle traveled to Milwaukee to play in the NY2LA Summer Jam on Thursday. Suggs and fellow Gophers targets Dain Dainja and Chet Holmgren played in front of Richard Pitino and Gophers assistant Rob Jeter against Chicago Meanstreets. Meanstreets featured forward Tray Jackson, one of Pitino’s top 2019 targets. Suggs had 17 points in the loss.
In the second game Thursday, Sizzle defeated Kingdom Hoops behind Dainja’s 17 points. Suggs provided arguably one of the most memorable highlights of the summer with a one-handed steal on an inbounds pass and full court heave -- all in one motion -- sending the ball sailing and through the hoop 75 feet away.
Suggs, a highly-recruited quarterback, can throw a football nearly 70 yards. He’s as confident in his arm as he is that the blue-blood schools will eventually offer him.
In the meantime, Suggs said Minnesota, Iowa and Ohio State are recruiting him the hardest in both basketball and football. And he appreciates how much Pitino is making him a priority. The Gophers fifth-year coach and either assistants Jeter or Ed Conroy have contacted Suggs weekly since coaches were allowed to call Class of 2020 targets on June 15.
The Gophers are months away from opening the 2018-19 season, but Suggs anticipates a significant improvement after a 15-17 record last season.
“I definitely think they have the talent to do it,” Suggs said. “Pitino is a good coach. They have good facilities. I honestly think it could be a good year for the Gophers. I’m excited to get to some games and see how it goes. This is an important year for them.”