Gonzaga had never landed a recruit as decorated as five-star standout Jalen Suggs.
And the Bulldogs have never had a recruit commit on national television. Josh Perkins made his commitment in August 2013 on a Denver television station.
That changed Friday night when Suggs announced his commitment to Gonzaga, removing his jacket to reveal a ‘Zag Up’ shirt on ESPN2.
“To me, Mark Few is the best coach in the country,” Suggs said. “He has that winning mentality just like I do. He’s a great competitor and what he does with his players and his point guards, I believe going into that system I can truly grow and develop as a player.”
Suggs was about an hour removed from leading Minnehaha Academy to an 89-68 win over Park Center in the opener of the High School Showcase. He made his announcement at halftime of ESPN2’s telecast of the second game between Sierra Canyon (California) and The Patrick School (New Jersey).
Friday’s games were held at Minnehaha’s new gym in Minneapolis. Saturday’s games are at the Target Center with Minnehaha taking on Sierra Canyon, which has LeBron James’ son ‘Bronny’ and Dwyane Wade’s son Zaire, on ESPN3.
Suggs, who scored 25 points and had eight assists in Friday’s win, chose Gonzaga over Florida State, Florida, Minnesota and Iowa State.
However, the 6-foot-4 guard hasn’t ruled out playing professionally overseas.
“That consideration is very serious,” Suggs said. “Me and my parents have been in talks with multiple teams overseas, trying to figure out contracts and stuff like that. But as of right now, I’m fully invested in the Zags.”
The next official signing period for basketball begins April 15.
The Zags soared from No. 35 in 247sports’ team rankings to No. 7 after Suggs announced his decision.
Suggs has led Minnehaha to three straight state titles in basketball and one state football championship. Suggs, a standout quarterback and defensive back, drew interest from numerous football programs in addition to basketball powers.
“He’s a winner, that’s what he is,” Minnehaha basketball coach Lance Johnson told The Spokesman-Review in June. “His game was created not out of physicality, but more out of an incredible knack for getting to the basket. He’s very shifty, his physicality came on the last few years. He can get to the basket, his shot was really good last season, and we post him up as well.”
Suggs is sixth on ESPN’s top 100 in the 2020 class and No. 10 in 247sports’ composite rankings. He has earned three gold medals on USA Basketball teams, including one from the FIBA U19 World Cup last summer.
Zach Collins was ranked No. 20 by 247sports and No. 30 in 247sports’ composite rankings. Collins became Gonzaga’s first one-and-done freshman following the 2017 season. Domantas Sabonis was No. 26 in 2014.
Jeremy Pargo was as high as No. 21 and Perkins was No. 24 when he committed. Perkins finished No. 76 in 247sports’ composite rankings. Austin Daye was ranked No. 34 in 2007.
The Zags have landed numerous transfers who were prep standouts, including Micah Downs (No. 24 in 2005), Nigel Williams-Goss (No. 33 in 2013) and Kyle Wiltjer (No. 20 in 2011).
It should be noted that many of Gonzaga’s international standouts weren’t included in recruiting rankings.
Suggs joins a recruiting class that includes Dominick Harris, a 6-4 combo guard from Rancho Christian High in Temecula, Calif., and Julian Strawther, a 6-7 wing from Liberty High in Henderson, Nev.
The three are close friends and they visited Gonzaga in October for Kraziness in the Kennel. Suggs has dubbed the threesome the “Tricky Trio” on Twitter. Suggs mentioned Harris and Strawther during his ESPN2 interview, extending happy birthday wishes to Harris, who turned 18 on Friday.
“First things first, (Harris) is the best recruiter in da nation,” Strawther tweeted shortly after Suggs’ announcement.
Suggs presumably would replace senior Ryan Woolridge as Gonzaga’s starting point guard next season.
“Suggs is an aggressive scoring point guard that combines high-level athletic ability and natural passing vision,” according to Paul Biancardi, ESPN national director of recruiting. “His quick first step to the basket, long-range jumper and defensive ability is impressive. He’s special because he thrives in the transition game but can switch gears to operate and execute within the flow of a game.”
Gonzaga is involved with several top recruits, including Minnehaha 7-footer Chet Holmgren, who joined Suggs on the October visit to Spokane. Holmgren is ranked No. 4 in the 2021 class.
Seattle product Paolo Banchero, No. 3 in the 2021 class, is expected to visit GU on Jan. 18-19. Oregon forward Nathan Bittle, No. 14 in the 2021 class, has indicated he plans to visit Gonzaga.