Video: Jalen Suggs highlights
See first team All-American in action.
has flourished over many defenses during his illustrious high school career as perhaps one of the nation's top two-way prep athletes to ever take the football field and basketball court.
There was no way exactly to beat the coronavirus pandemic that ended his senior basketball season prematurely earlier this month, three wins short of a fourth straight Minnesota state title for Minnehaha Academy (Minneapolis)
Like so many from the winter season, Suggs finished things off with a shoulder shrug rather than flailed fist or hoisting a team trophy after the Minnesota State High School League was forced to shut down the state tournament March 19-21 due to COVID-19.
But Suggs, a 6-foot-5 guard and first team MaxPreps All-American, handled the development with a positive response befitting of his personality that has been described as fun-loving, upbeat and easy to laugh.
After a 94-58 win over Totino-Grace to win the state's 3A Section 4 title, Suggs told twincities.com
that it was "one of the most fun games I've played in."
He was warned the state tournament could be canceled, so he went out with a flurry and a smile, scoring 30 points which wasn't a big stretch from his season scoring average of 23.3 per game. He also averaged 7.5 rebounds, 5.0 rebounds and 3.9 steals per game helping the Redhawks to a 26-3 record and No. 13 national ranking.
"I just tried to enjoy myself, have a good time with my brothers one last time and play as best as I could," he said after the game. "I can't think of a better way to go out. We all had tons of fun, we had a lot of good plays, a lot of highlights, and throughout the whole game we were laughing and smiling together. I think that's what made it so special."
Suggs, a Gonzaga signee, was special from the get-go to help the private Christian school of 832 students land on the national map. Since 2016-17, the Redhawks have gone 111-15 and won three straight state 2A titles. He finished with 2,945 career points, 883 rebounds, 735 assists, 509 steals and 103 blocked shots in 154 career games.
This from a four-star dual-threat quarterback who has more than a dozen college football offers that include Ohio State.
"He makes an impact on the court in so many ways — scoring, rebounds, finding the open man or making steals," MaxPreps basketball editor Jordan Divens. "He's just so very versatile. He's super athletic but also very strong and smart. He doesn't force things. He makes open shots. The blend of everything always makes him the best player on the court."
He had another big force with him in 7-foot junior center Chet Holmgren
, a first-team Junior Class All-American, who might have been the best shot blocker in the country.
"He can have a huge impact on any game without even scoring," Divens said.
, a 6-6 sophomore, was a third big impact player for the Redhawks.
The team's big three were all at their best in Minnehaha's signature win of the season, a 78-58 victory over nationally-ranked and two-time defending California top division champion Sierra Canyon.
Suggs had 23 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and six steals. Holmgren was everywhere, swatting away attempts from 5-star recruits Brandon Boston Jr. and Ziaire Williams, with 12 rebounds and 10 blocks. Aligbe, the No. 73-ranked sophomore in the country, had 18 points and eight rebounds.
The game was played in front of 17,378 fans at the Target Center, home of the NBA's Timberwolves, and a live ESPNU audience.
"How fun is that," Minnehaha Academy coach Lance Johnson asked rhetorically afterward.
The victory not only was fun and added a state-title game feel, but it also helped further Minnesota's reputation as an up-and-coming basketball hotbed.
The Gopher State is turning into the Roundball State.
"I wouldn't call it a hotbed yet, but it's definitely a state to pay attention to now," Divens said.
With Suggs graduating in June, a few less people will follow. He brought both attention and class to the state and certainly Minnehaha, said Johnson, who called him the most competitive kid he's ever coached.
Because Suggs is so strong and competitive, "He's a man among boys," Johnson old mnbasketballhub.com
. "He overpowers people right now."
His game face and strength make him appear unlikeable, Johnson said.
"He's not like that at all," he said. "He's a gentleman and very humble. He turned our athletic program around."