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Q&A: Jalen Suggs Talks Recruiting, Gophers Strong Season and More

01/07/2017, 10:00pm CST
By Chris Monter

Jalen Suggs, a 6-foot-1 freshman guard from Minneapolis (MN) Minnehaha Academy, is one of the top guards in the Midwest in the Class of 2020 and is considered the number one prospect from Minnesota in the class.

 

Suggs is averaging 29.7 points per game this season as Minnehaha is off to a 5-3 start. He scored 40 points this past weekend as the Redhawks defeated Class 4A defending state champion Hopkins. He had 42 in the team's season opener versus Orono.

 

Suggs averaged 17.3 points per game last year for the Redhawks, who finished 22-7, losing to St. Croix Lutheran 81-67 in the Section 4AA finals. He scored in double figures in 25 of 27 games with ten games of 20 or more points, including a season-best 29 points versus St. Croix Lutheran in the playoff loss.

 

Gopher Hole recently caught up with Suggs at the Breakdown Tip-Off Classic after a loss to defending Class A champion Minneapolis North to talk about the latest on his recruitment.

 

Gopher Hole: Obviously, a very good team that you played against today. Do you like playing these tough games early in the year to get you ready for the regular season conference play and hopefully a long run in the postseason?   
 
Jalen Suggs: Yes, definitely. Coach said that we have a really tough December schedule, but it is for the better, getting us ready for March. Getting ready for a great state tournament run. I like playing these games a lot.  

 

Gopher Hole: There were some college coaches here to watch you. I don't know if they let you know beforehand, but Baylor, Minnesota and Iowa State were all here. I know that you had coaches watching you this summer play AAU ball, but do you ever catch yourself looking over there at them or do you try not to pay attention to the coaches?
 
Jalen Suggs: No, I see them out of the corner of my eye sometimes. I just try to focus on the game. Play the best that I can and try to get the win. 
  
Gopher Hole: I know that during the AAU season they have the school logo on their shirts and want to be as visible as possible, so they want to be seen. Is that a little different, too?   
 
Jalen Suggs: Kind of, but it is still playing a game and if I do all the right things on the court, hopefully, I'll end up where I want to be.

 

Gopher Hole: Obviously, you had to do a little bit more with (star junior forward) Javonni Bickham out for four weeks with a hand injury How does that change your outlook going into games like these?
 
Jalen Suggs: Just means that I have crash the boards more. He was a great rebounder and we lost him, so now we all have got to crash collectively. We have been getting beat on rebounds the past couple of games, so everyone has got to be more physical and pick up on the rebounds.  .  

 

Gopher Hole: Is that something that will help you down the road when you get him back because until you get him back on the lineup other guys are going to have to step up and get a little more experience?   
 
Jalen Suggs: Yes. Prince (Aligbe), the seventh grader, he definitely got to step up and play big minutes. He played good today, but still makes a couple of seventh grade mistakes, but this is great to have him hurt in December, instead of March.  

 

Gopher Hole: Is that weird talking about a seventh grader, because you have three ninth graders, including yourself, that start?  Is it strange, having some many young kids on a team or is that something the you think is going to help you because you are hopefully going to grow together?

 

Jalen Suggs: Not really strange. We have been playing together all of our lives, playing up against older competition, so we are used to this, so we just have to come out and play, really.

 

Gopher Hole: In terms of recruiting, I know that it is so early being only a freshman, but how many offers are you up to right now? Does nine sound right?

 

Jalen Suggs: Yes.

 

Gopher Hole: What is the most recent offer?

 

Jalen Suggs: Marquette, I think. Marquette or Minnesota, one of those.

 

Gopher Hole: I know that it is so early, but do you like the recruiting process still or are you starting to see how it can wear you down or is it still  kind of fun?

 

Jalen Suggs: You know, it's fun getting to know all the new coaches, building new relationships. I like it. It is a good time.    

 

Gopher Hole: What things have you been really focused on to continue to improve yourself as a player?  

 

Jalen Suggs: My athleticism, right now. I have been really working on that. Trying to get stronger. Get in the weight room and then better decision making. I had a couple of ball turnovers Need to clean up those. 
 
Gopher Hole: I know that you had a great year this season, football-wise. Is that something that you could see yourself doing throughout your high school career or is it one of those things that you might have to give up?  

 

Jalen Suggs: I would like to play for the rest of my high career. I have played my whole life and I enjoy it, so I'll most likely play it all the way out, unless something happens.   
  
Gopher Hole: Brad Davison of Maple Grove is a big-time basketball player, but he was also StarTribune Player of the Year in football. Is that something that you look at and think that maybe, you can do both sports?  

 

Jalen Suggs: Yes, for sure. There have been plenty of people in high school who have played both sports. I am just going to keep playing them out and see what happens.  
  
Gopher Hole: Do you think that helps you a little bit playing football as a basketball player because a quarterback is a leader and you are a point guard, which is a leader on the basketball court. Do you think that you see some comparisons that help you as a basketball player?  

 

Jalen Suggs: Yes, it definitely helps a lot. It brings a lot of toughness. We get in the weight room a lot during the football season, so it is getting me stronger and just making good decisions. Point guard has got to make good decisions, get people open. The same thing that a quarterback has to do.    
  
Gopher Hole: Have you had a chance to go to any college football or basketball games so far?  

 

Jalen Suggs: Oh, yes. I went to Iowa a couple of weeks back. That was a good time. That was the week that they played Michigan in football, so that was a lot of fun. I really liked it down there.    
  
Gopher Hole: What does it feel like to get love from those teams like Iowa and Iowa State that are so close. Minnesota is obviously recruiting you, but what about Iowa and Iowa State?  What are you hearing from them?

 

Jalen Suggs: It is real fun, you know, just having them talking to me. We are building a relationship with all the coaches, but it is just staying humble. Respect all the schools and just have fun with the game. 
  
Gopher Hole: What are you hearing from the Gophers?  They can't talk directly to you since you are only a ninth grader, but what are you hearing from them?

 

Jalen Suggs: Just keeping in touch. Trying to build up the relationship. I talk to Ben (Johnson) a lot. The assistant coaches a lot and just trying to get to some games. 
  
Gopher Hole: They had a disappointing year last season, but are playing really well this year. Does that change how you look at them a little bit differently with them having the success that they are having?  

 

Jalen Suggs: Yes and it will always be the homestate. They are having a great season. I am going to make it out to some games and I just wish them the best of luck.

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