Not long after his Minnehaha Academy team dismantled Park Center 89-68, Jalen Suggs took a courtside seat during of the second game of the night at Minnehaha Academy’s Upper Campus. Sierra Canyon (Cal.) and The Patrick School (N.J.), were at halftime and Suggs sat next to the broadcasters who were calling the game on ESPN2. There was an announcement to make.
It took less than minute for throngs of classmates, friends, well-wishers and stargazers to surround him, 10 deep, as he prepared to make his long-awaited college decision on national television. Suggs was all smiles, observing the amount of interest he was generating.
“I think it just describes myself, to see my circle — and it literally was a circle — who mean so much to me and have helped me get to where I am today,” Suggs said. “A lot of people have invested a lot of time and energy into me and I’m very thankful for them.”
Suggs didn’t wait long to give the gathered horde what they were waiting for. After a few questions from the broadcasters, he made his announcement: Gonzaga would be his home for college basketball, ending months of speculation, rumors and questions.
“From the day I started talking to the coaching staff to the minute I stepped on the campus, I kind of knew Gonzaga was the place for me,” he said. “It’s like an extension from home. In so many ways, it replicates the Minnehaha community and the way that we work, which is a perfect transition for me.”
The announcement of Gonzaga did not come as a surprise. Many observers and recruiting wonks believed the Zags were a strong favorite for Suggs’ services.
Suggs himself said he’d known for a while where he would land, but kept it under wraps until Friday evening.
“It was definitely tough not to mention it,” he laughed. “You can ask my mom, my dad, how hard it was for me to keep it in.”
Complicating Suggs recruitment was his lingering devotion to football. He won the 2019 Minnesota Mr. Football award last fall and admitted that giving up football would be tough. “That’s going to be one of the hardest things I’m going to say goodbye to,” he said. “It feels a little off, but for me, for my family, for my future, this is the route I had to take.”
He said the University of Minnesota was always in the mix, but in the end, he didn’t feel like the Gophers’ program was right for him. “The basketball side kind of fell off. Football-wise, I think P.J. Fleck is one of the best coaches in the country. I love him. But basketball just didn’t match what I wanted it to be.”
Suggs and the Redhawks will take on Sierra Canyon, a 71-56 winner over Patrick School, Saturday at Target Center. A fitting cherry on top of a momentous weekend for the ultra-talented combo guard.
“This is very special, to go and play big-time basketball like this,” Suggs said. “I’m very excited. For it to be on the big stages at the Target Center, I love that. Those are the kind of games you like to play in.”