Q&A With Jalen Suggs: Gonzaga Career, Game-Winner Against UCLA, First Purchase After Draft, Work With Gatorade

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Jalen Suggs immediately became a sensation at Gonzaga, averaging 14.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game as a freshman. Though he didn’t finish this season with a national title, he was responsible for one of the best shots we’ve seen in college basketball history.

After the NCAA Tournament came to an end, Suggs announced that he was going pro. Losing an elite playmaker Suggs stings just a tad, but Gonzaga remains in great hands.

Earlier this week, Suggs officially passed the torch to the next top recruit who’ll wear the Zags uniform.

On Wednesday, Suggs surprised five-star center Chet Holmgren with the Gatorade National Player of the Year award. Holmgren announced in April that he’ll play college basketball at Gonzaga.

We sat down with Jalen Suggs to discuss his work with Gatorade, phenomenal season at Gonzaga, his game-winning shot in the Final Four and much more.

The Spun: First off, can you tell me about what you’re doing with the Gatorade Player of the Year program?

Jalen Suggs: I’m getting to present the Gatorade National Player of the Year award to Chet Holmgren. I’m super excited for him to experience this and reap the benefits of this prestigious award. He’s done so much on the court, off the court and for the city of Minneapolis. It’s an all-around award for Chet. 

The Spun: Does the fact that Chet committed to Gonzaga make this presentation even sweeter?

JS: It makes it even better. To know that he’s going to put on that Gonzaga jersey and put on a show for a full Kennel – something I didn’t get to experience – means the world. I know that he’s going to enjoy it there. I’m going to give him all the knowledge I have and experiences I had to help him out. It’s going to be fun – I can’t wait. 

The Spun: Going back to this season, how did Gonzaga just find a way to be so consistent despite all the hurdles COVID-19 presented?

JS: We were able to do that because of how good of a unit we were. We were a brotherhood. I know that word gets tossed around a lot, but we were a family. Whatever we were going through, we were going through it as a team. If someone was dealing with something, we’d all be there for each other and keep things pushing. We just had one goal, and that goal was to win. Personal accolades never came into play with us. All we wanted to do was win and we definitely did a lot of that. 

The Spun: Take me back to the game-winning shot against UCLA. What was going through your mind?

JS: It was so crazy. It didn’t really set in until after we got out of the bubble and people were still talking about it. Even now, people still talk about it and ask me about the shot. In the moment though, it was wild. That whole game was so crazy, and the only way it was going to end was with a shot like that because both teams were playing so well. I remember getting the ball, getting up the court and letting it go. The one thing I remember perfectly about it is that after it left my hand, I was trying to figure out if it was going to be short or long. It was dead silent when I let the ball go. Everyone went crazy after the shot when in. I got to live out that dream I’ve had my entire life. 

The Spun: Obviously you guys didn’t finish the season the way you wanted to, but how will you look back at your time with the Bulldogs?

JS: I’m extremely happy with it. There isn’t a single thing that I’d take back from my time here – a day, a practice, a moment, anything. I had so much fun and learned so much from the older guys, like Drew Timme, Andrew Nembhard, Corey Kispert and Joel Ayayi. It was always a joy to be in the gym with them, especially during the pandemic since that’s all we could really do. And, of course, the games were incredible. I wouldn’t take any moment back. 

The Spun: Did any part of you think, ‘Man, I have to come back and finish what we started’? 

JS: The competitor in me was thinking about what if I come back next year, we get Chet to come, we run it back and try to get that championship. Opportunities like this don’t come around often and nothing is promised, so when something like this comes across you have to take it. I’ve been so blessed with this opportunity and I’m just trying to take it all in and enjoy it. 

The Spun: Are there any NBA players you can’t wait to face? 

JS: There are a couple of guys who I’d love to match up with. I don’t know if I have any specific names off the top of my head, but knowing every night I’ll play some of the best players in the world is awesome. I can’t wait. 

The Spun: You said your first big purchase will be a car for your mom. Can you just tell me a bit about what she’s meant to your basketball career? 

JS: She reminds me about the Escalade every day [laughing]. She’s been my rock. She’s done all the little things for me since I was a young age. From the road trips to the tournaments to taking care of me, she’s done it all. I feel like the least that I can do is give her the Escalade that she got designed with all those gadgets she wants in it. Knowing I can give her that and put the biggest smile on her face makes me happy.

NBA fans will hear Jalen Suggs’ name called fairly early during this year’s draft. After all, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo recently vouched for Suggs to be the No. 1 pick from the 2021 class.

You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.

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