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Minnehaha Academy star Suggs plans Duke, N. Carolina, Kansas visits

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.”

Metro-area big men Carlson, Garcia have big AAU weekend in New York

To say this has been a productive spring and summer for Ben Carlson would be an understatement.

The four-star East Ridge 2020 power forward won a summer state tournament title with the Raptors in June and followed that up with his D1 Minnesota AAU squad taking home the Adidas Gauntlet Finale 16U crown last weekend in New York. 

“That was the best we’ve played this entire year,” Carlson said. “We shared the ball and our defense was really, really good. We held two teams under 40 points, which really doesn’t happen a lot in AAU. We had a really good weekend.”

Carlson’s D1 Minnesota 16s team, includes Prior Lake 2020 forward and fellow Gophers target Dawson Garcia. They defeated Indiana Elite 53-37 on Sunday.

With the July evaluation period opening last Wednesday, Carlson said he noticed several coaches in the crowd watching his team throughout the week, including Richard Pitino and Minnesota assistants.

“I saw coach (Kyle) Lindsted was there at every game, the new assistant,” Carlson said. “I saw coach Pitino at a couple games. Coach Lindsted told me before the tournament that he would make sure to be there at every game. That means a lot.”

The 6-foot-9 Carlson and 6-10 Garcia are highly skilled posts. They both fit the “stretch four” label with the ability to face the basket, shoot and put the ball on the floor. That caught the attention of Pitino, who offered both scholarships (along with Park Center’s 2020 big man Dain Dainja) on the same day in April.

 “(The Gophers) like how I can take it inside, take it to the hoop or shoot the three,” Carlson said. “They like my versatility a lot. They like how I rebound and how hard I play.” 

Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin are his Big Ten offers. Carlson also has offers from Stanford, Creighton and Iowa State (his father’s alma mater). 

In the next couple months, Carlson plans to take unofficial visits to Michigan, Iowa and Butler in August and late September. He will also try to see Nebraska, Iowa State and Creighton when his family makes road trips to see his sister, Brynn, play volleyball with Kansas State this fall. She’s a 6-4 sophomore outside hitter and former Cretin-Derham Hall standout.

Garcia, who just received an offer from Wisconsin on Monday, has offers from Baylor, Butler, Iowa, Xavier and Texas among others. He's reportedly scheduled an unofficial visit to see the Longhorns on Sept. 22. The Gophers were able to show him their new facilities when Prior Lake played in the U's team camp last month. 

“I have been in a lot more contact with them as of late," Garcia told "I’ve met all of their assistants, and I have been talking to them a lot. Coach Pitino is a good guy, and I am exciting to keep getting recruited by the Gophers.”

Garcia and Carlson could see their recruitment rise to another level after their team won the Adidas title.

“I think we both had good weekends and helped our team a lot,” Carlson said. “There were a lot of coaches watching our whole team. I think we’ll have some new interest because our team played really well.”

-- D1 Minnesota 17U and 16U teams will be competing in the Adidas Summer Championships this week in Los Angeles. The D1 MN 17s fell in double overtime 87-83 to the Compton Magic in the Adidas Gauntlet Finale, but five-star 2019 Rochester John Marshall forward Matthew Hurt and company solidified themselves as one of the top AAU teams in the country.

The Gophers top senior target Hurt averaged 20.4 points, 6.0 rebounds on 60 percent shooting from the field and 81 percent from the foul line in five games. Another prime Minnesota 2019 target and Hopkins big man Zeke Nnaji averaged 11.4 points and 4.2 rebounds in New York.

-- Pitino handed out six new scholarship offers in the 2019 and 2020 classes in the last week. Those names are Sunrise Christian (Kan.) senior guard Austin Crowley, Seattle Garfield (Wash.) senior guard P.J. Fuller, Bishop Walsh (MD) senior forward Yavuz Gultekin and Pebblebrook (GA) senior forward Jared Jones, Norfolk Academy (Va.) center Mark Williams and Trinity Episcopal (Va.) forward Henry Coleman.