'It was surreal': Minnehaha Academy star Jalen Suggs named McDonald's All-American

Jalen Suggs speaks with members of the media after announcing he will play for Gonzaga in college. (FOX 9)

Jalen Suggs has been playing varsity basketball for Minnehaha Academy since the seventh grade. He’s been dreaming of being a McDonald’s All-American since he was a little kid.

He remembers going to the game as a middle school student in 2014, when Apple Valley’s Tyus Jones and DeLaSalle’s Reid Travis represented Minnesota. Suggs learned during a recent lunch at school that he’s the next local McDonald’s All-American, and the first from Minnehaha Academy.

Suggs was honored at a McDonald's in Minneapolis Monday night for being one of three local McDonald's All-Americans this year.

“It was surreal. I was sitting there in the lunch room in the school with a bunch of my friends, a bunch of my teachers. They announced it on ESPN, just seeing my name come up, pop up on the screen, it was great,” Suggs said. “Then just for everybody to be there, supporting me, telling me congratulations and stuff, it was great.”

He made it a goal of his to become an All-American after seeing Jones, Travis, Justise Winslow and Theo Pinson in 2014. All four are now pursuing their professional dreams. Anyone who has ever been around Suggs knows he will stop at nothing to achieve what he sets out to do.

He’s led the Redhawks to three state championships, and there’s a good chance Minnehaha Academy will be back to contend for another one this season. The Redhawks are 17-2 on the season and have won 10 straight. Their only losses this season came at Hopkins in overtime, and to Cretin-Derham Hall in the Breakdown Tip-Off Classic.

“The thing that’s extra special about him is the fact that I don’t think you can find a more competitive kid in the country,” Minnehaha Academy coach Lance Johnson said. “He just has the will to win, which has been proven by three state championships at the AA level. I think that’s the biggie.”

There isn’t anything that Suggs can’t do on a basketball court. He can drive, he can shoot and he can set up his teammates. He embraces adversity, hostile road environments and takes his game to another gear when opponents don’t seem to have anything left.

It’s why he’s the No. 6-ranked player in the 2020 class, and one of the top point guards in the country. He’ll get the chance to face some of the other top players in the nation in early April at the McDonald’s All-American Game in Houston, Texas.

He’s one of three Minnesotans going this year, along with Dawson Garcia of Prior Lake and Paige Bueckers of Hopkins, who is the No. 1 overall recruit in the country in girls basketball.

“I want to go have a fun time with my brothers. Those are guys that I don’t really get to see that often, so first and foremost, I want to go down there and have a great time with them and enjoy the experience,” Suggs said.

It’s a bittersweet time for his head coach, who only has a few more games left with one of the best guards in the history of Minnesota. Suggs is also the favorite to win Mr. Basketball this season.

“We’re honored and we’re very proud of Jalen because he’s the first, obviously, Minnehaha player that has had this honor. It’s just a credit to who he is as a person and as a basketball player,” Johnson said.

Suggs may also not be the only McDonald’s All-American to come out of Minnehaha Academy. Junior Chet Holmgren, a 7-foot center, is one of the top players in the country for 2021.

After his high school career is over, Suggs will have a decision to make. He announced back in January he plans to attend Gonzaga next fall and play basketball, but also has had conversations with multiple teams overseas about skipping college to play professionally right out of high school. He said Monday he's "fully committed" to Gonzaga, and looks forward to being there this summer.