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College choice looming; Suggs is a champ on gridiron and hardwood

Posted on 17 December 2018 by calvin

By MATTHEW DAVIS
Sporting a Georgetown hat, Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker and St. Paul native Terrell Suggs likened his second cousin Jalen’s prowess at football and basketball as a great problem to have when college recruiters come calling.

“So is Allen Iverson,” Terrell said in a 2017 interview after a game against the Minnesota Vikings. “It’s good to be a 2-sport player.”

Iverson, who played college hoops at Georgetown and went on to a hall-of-fame career in the NBA, also excelled at football in high school. Jalen has been recruited for both sports with schools such as North Carolina for basketball and Ohio State for football showing interest.

“I try to recruit him to go to Arizona State,” said Terrell, who played football there before his NFL career.

Jalen has been the top basketball and football recruit for Minnesota in 2020 for a while. The Minnehaha Academy junior already has led the Redhawks boys basketball team to back-to-back state titles. He recently added a state football title with the St. Paul Academy-Minnehaha Academy-Blake co-op as the quarterback. Trophies have been a big goal for Jalen all along.

“Definitely state championships,” Jalen said in a March interview. “Losing is one of my biggest pet peeves.”

He didn’t say at the time whether he leans toward basketball or football for college, though his hoops prowess has only grown outside of the high school season. He has competed with the USA Basketball U16 and U17 teams the past two summers, winning gold. Division I offers for hoops also have outnumbered football ones according to recruiting websites.

“I think he plays football just to get his body in shape for basketball,” said Terrell, who grew up playing youth football in St. Paul before his family moved to Arizona when he was 15.

Terrell played center in youth football with a quarterback named Joe Mauer, who went on to have a long career baseball with the Minnesota Twins. Terrell, who still has family in the area, said he didn’t get to see Jalen when the Ravens came to play the Vikings.

“Probably somewhere hooping,” said Terrell, who indicated he’s well aware of how high Jalen ranks among high school hoops recruits.

Jalen ranks 10th nationally for all players in the class of 2020 and second among point guards according to ESPN.com. In football, he ranks eighth nationally among dual-threat quarterbacks.

“I look at it here and there when a new one comes out,” Jalen said about the rankings. “But I don’t really pay attention to it too much because, at the end of the day, rankings don’t say anything. Once you get on that court, they can’t save you.”

Jalen didn’t need to save SMB’s football season when he returned from a knee injury this fall. He nonetheless took the Wolfpack to new heights with a Class 4A Prep Bowl victory, accounting for five touchdowns in the championship game.

In basketball, he looks to help the Redhawks win a third-straight Class 2A title this season. He has been averaging 27 points per game in the young season.

Jalen, who said he didn’t get to see Terrell last year, said that his older second cousin has been a big example for him among his athletically-gifted family.

“It’s a big motivation because we’ve had a lot of great players in our family, including my dad, cousins [and] uncles,” Jalen said. “So seeing one that just actually made it, it’s a big motivation. It makes me want to be the next one. Everyone’s pushing me and helping me get there.”

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