A three-quarter-court pass flies and lands in the breadbasket of Joel Ayayi for an easy two.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs were in close battle with BYU in the West Coast Conference Tournament championship. Suggs hit a three, then displayed his quarterback skills, then blocked a shot all within a two-and-a-half-minute stretch.
The Zags retook the lead and never let go.
The freshman point guard has a knack for making winning plays.
That clutch gene has come in hand for the Bulldogs this season. The Zags held the No. 1 ranking throughout the entire 2020-21 campaign with an undefeated record.
Suggs’ skill set has boosted him up NBA Draft boards while placing Gonzaga into prime position to capture the program’s first national championship.
Jalen Suggs in High School
Any high school sports fan from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area has been familiar with Suggs for a while. At Minnehaha Academy, the guard started on the varsity team as an eighth grader.
At 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, he’s a big, athletic guard who can muscle his way through contact or blow by his defender. He has a smooth looking stroke off the dribble and catch. Defensively, Suggs is a pest. He can hang with anyone, particularly on the ball.
During his time as a Redhawk, the basketball team captured three state championships from 2017 to 2019. In that stretch, Suggs averaged 20.3 points per game, 7.3 rebs., and 4.9 asts.
One day after committing to Gonzaga on January 3, 2020, Minnehaha took on Bronny James, Amari Bailey, BJ Boston, Ziaire Williams, and Sierra Canyon in Minneapolis. Minnehaha won 78-58 behind 23 points from Suggs.
The combo guard and teammate Chet Holmgren — the top recruit in the class of 2021 —were unable to go for a fourth title after the 2019-20 season was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 outbreak.
Suggs’ winning extended to the football field, where he played quarterback for SMB — a combined team of Minnehaha and two other schools. He led the team to a state title as a junior and a state runners-up in his senior season.
Internationally, Suggs has won gold medals as a member of USA Basketball‘s U17 and U19 teams at the 2018 and 2019 FIBA World Cups.
Jalen Suggs at Gonzaga
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Quickly after arriving in Spokane, Suggs established himself as one of the top freshman in the college basketball by performing at his best against the best competition.
In the season opener against Kansas, he scored 24 points, 4 rebounds, and 8 assists in a 102-90 win. Three weeks later, he notched 27 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists against Iowa in a 99-88 victory.
In a strong core of Corey Kispert, Drew Timme, Andrew Nembhard, and Ayayi, Suggs is as reliable as anyone. He plays a consistent brand of basketball that translates to wins – something the Zags have a lot of experience with this year.
His play helped him earn First-Team All-WCC and WCC All-Freshman Team honors in addition to being named the WCC Newcomer of the Year and the WCC Tournament Most Outstanding Player.
That last one has a particularly special meaning. Mark Few‘s team faced its toughest test and Suggs stepped up to the plate. His affinity for the big moments is reassuring with the NCAA Tournament upon us.
“When the lights are shining the brightest and more people are watching, I always want to go out and make plays,” Suggs told ESPN. “More importantly, I wanted to come out with a win. I told Coach with like six, seven minutes left, we’re not walking out of here without a championship. I’m gonna get it done. Coming down the stretch, guys had great confidence in me, they trusted in me. I kept screaming, ‘It’s March! It’s March!’ I’ve been waiting to play in these moments, in March, my entire life.”
First, he’s going dancing.