Jalen Suggs, coveted by top college football and basketball programs nationwide through much of his high school career, has a few highlights that stand out from his senior year.
The back-and-forth section final football game vs. Benilde-St. Margaret's, for one.
"As plays would go this way and that way, you would see the crowd shift toward each end of the field,'' recalled the SMB quarterback and defensive back, who accounted for nearly 400 yards passing and rushing and threw four touchdown passes, including the game-winner with 44 seconds left. "It was just the coolest thing to see.''
Rushing the basketball court with teammates in St. Peter after Mason Doherty, a St. Peter senior with Down syndrome, made a buzzer-beater in a blowout Redhawks win.
"I had a smile on my face for the next week," Suggs said. "That was a great moment, not only for myself but for our community, the St. Peter community, just for everybody.''
Suggs, the Star Tribune All-Metro Male Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive time, called this past year "easily the most fun I've had during my high school sports season since I've been playing in seventh grade.''
It was a year when a Class 4A football state title eluded his team on the last play against Rocori. His season stats: 2,213 yards passing and 25 touchdowns, 978 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns.
A year when a Class 3A basketball state championship quest by his much-heralded team was halted by the coronavirus pandemic, one day after the Redhawks won a section title. He finished as the school's all-time leading scorer with 2,945 career points.
When the 6-5 Suggs was named athlete of the year as a junior last June, he had led his football and basketball teams to state titles. He missed the awards event at U.S. Bank because he was in Greece, helping Team USA reclaim the U-19 world basketball championship.
This year: No state titles, no banquet. The Gonzaga-bound athlete is stuck at home. Basketball workouts are delivered via the computer. He gets his shots in with his dad in the family driveway. And watches lots of Gonzaga film.
Perhaps his hardest decision this year was one that few face: whether to play top-tier Division I football or basketball.
Suggs recalled "countless, countless nights when I'd get no sleep, and I'd just be up staring at my ceiling, watching highlight tapes'' — first basketball, then football. Back and forth, over and over.
Not long after the Rocori game, Suggs said he made up his mind: "My love for football is a little bit higher than basketball,'' he said.
Then he had a sit-down with his father, Larry, whom Jalen described as his best friend and ace-in-the-hole on all matters. In what Jalen called "the realest conversation that we've ever had,'' he wept. And made a new decision.
He announced his college choice the day before Minnehaha Academy played in front of 17,000 fans at Target Center, on ESPN, and beat Sierra Canyon of California.
"The funnest basketball game that I've been a part of,'' he said.
In a two-sport season full of big moments and fun.