Former Gonzaga point guard Jalen Suggs will forever be synonymous with one of the greatest shots in March Madness history. His 37-foot game-winner in overtime of the 2021 Final Four to beat UCLA, keeping Gonzaga's then-perfect season alive and propelling the 'Zags to the national championship game, ranks as the third-longest, game-winning buzzer-beater in the history of the DI men's basketball tournament.
Here's everything you need to know about Suggs' college career.
Jalen Suggs' college basketball stats, vitals
Position: Point guard
Weight: 205 pounds
Years active: 2020-21
NCAA tournament record: 5-1
Career averages: 14.4 points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game, 4.5 assists per game, 1.9 steals per game, 50.3% shooting, 33.7% 3-point shooting
What was Jalen Suggs' record in college?
Suggs played in 30 of Gonzaga's 32 games during his freshman season, when the 'Zags went 31-1, only losing to Baylor in the 2021 national championship game. In games in which Suggs played, Gonzaga was 29-1.
What kind of prospect was Jalen Suggs in high school?
Suggs was one of the best men's basketball players to ever enroll at Gonzaga.
According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Suggs was the best player in Minnesota in his high school class, the second-best combo guard in the country and the No. 13 player nationally. He was also a high-level quarterback prospect, who had reported scholarship offers from the likes of Georgia and Ohio State.
What was Jalen Suggs' game like?
At Gonzaga, Suggs was an athletic, electric point guard who took advantage of every square foot of the court, whether he was blocking a shot at the rim, like he did against UCLA's Cody Riley in the Final Four, or sneaking behind an unsuspecting ball-handler to poke the ball away in the backcourt. Offensively, he played with an attacking style — 49.8 percent of his shots came at the rim, per hoop-math.com — and he found ways to get his skilled teammates involved.
Don't forget: he was an elite quarterback in high school who could've played at the FBS level, so many of the skills that made him a coveted signal-caller — his vision, his elusiveness — translate to the hardwood. Whether in transition or finding tight window for a cross-court pass through a defense in a half-court set, Suggs excelled at finding open teammates. In WCC play, he assisted on 21.4 percent of Gonzaga's made baskets when he was on the floor, which ranked ninth in the conference, per kenpom.com.
KenPom lists former Kentucky guard John Wall as the player whose advanced statistics are most similar to those of Suggs. That's good company.
What were some of Jalen Suggs' best games?
Here are some of Suggs' best games in college.
Gonzaga 102, Kansas 90 | Nov. 26, 2020
In Gonzaga's season-opener and Suggs' college debut, top-ranked Gonzaga broke the 100-point mark and Suggs finished with 24 points on 60-percent shooting to go along with eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. Suggs' eight assists ultimately proved to be a season-high — a mark that he would tie three more times that season.
Gonzaga 99, Iowa 88 | Dec. 19, 2020
Suggs' career-high point total came in his fourth game at Gonzaga, when he had 27 points on 8-of-17 shooting, including seven 3-pointers, along with seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. The win was an early statement for Gonzaga — a double-digit, neutral-site win over Iowa, which finished with the third-most efficient offense in the country and earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Gonzaga 88, BYU 78 | March 9, 2021
Suggs helped Gonzaga sweep the West Coast Conference regular-season and conference tournament titles as the Bulldogs erased a 53-41 halftime deficit to win by 10 points. Suggs scored a game-high 23 points as all five Gonzaga starters scored in double figures. He also had five rebounds and five assists, while making four 3-pointers.
Gonzaga 85, USC 66 | March 30, 2021
Suggs finished two assists shy of a triple-double as Gonzaga downed USC in the Elite Eight by scoring 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting, grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out eight assists.
Gonzaga 93, UCLA 90 (OT) | April 3, 2021
It speaks to Suggs' skill set that a 16-point, six-assist, five-rebound game falls in the fat part of the bell curve for Suggs' performances during his freshman season, but it was points No. 14, 15 and 16 that put this game in March Madness lore. After UCLA's Johnny Juzang scored to tie the game at 93, Gonzaga immediately ran the other way on offense in the closing seconds, which culminated in Suggs' 37-foot buzzer-beater to send the 'Zags to the national championship game.
What awards did Jalen Suggs win in college?
Here are some of the awards and honors Suggs received in college:
- Consensus second-team All-American
- First-team All-WCC
- WCC Newcomer of the Year
- WCC All-Freshman Team
- WCC tournament Most Outstanding Player
What did people say about Jalen Suggs?
Few, after Suggs scored 24 points in his college debut against Kansas: "He's so good to coach."
Gonzaga guard Andrew Nembhard after Suggs was injured against West Virginia but returned to the game: "At first, we were kind of disappointed because we all love Jalen. Him coming back in the game was big for us. He played football so you know he's tough and we're pretty versatile so we could do some different things in the second to help him out. It worked out well for us."
Few, after Gonzaga defeated BYU in January 2021: "He has so many gifts and one of his greatest gifts is his vision. You have to be very confident to be able to execute passes like that."
Few, after Suggs' buzzer-beater to beat UCLA: "We were lucky enough to hit a 50-footer. So it helps when you have a magical, special guy like Jalen, special at the end of games."
Few: "I'm just telling you he makes those ones all the time in practice. He's just got this magical aura about him. I knew when he shot it, it was going in."
Jalen Suggs quotes
After scoring 24 points in his college debut against Kansas, including 17 in the second half: "I played patient, picked my spots, picked my moments."
After scoring a season-high 27 points, including seven 3-pointers, against Iowa: "This past week-and-a-half, I spent a lot of time in the gym by myself, just late at night spending time getting shots up under the gun. Coming into this weekend, I really felt like my jump shot improved and I felt really comfortable with it. I was telling everybody that this was a shooter's gym. It feels really good in here and I just came out today really confident."
On the potential of being the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft: "It's great to hear, but I'm not focused on that. I'm focused on the here and now and continuing to win and build with my guys. The coaching staff has done a great job of keeping me grounded and helping me keep the outside noise out. Whatever happens in the future happens, but right now I'm locked in with my guys."
After Gonzaga defeated BYU in January 2021: "I love throwing passes. It makes not playing football a little easier."
After Gonzaga won the WCC tournament: "I've been dreaming of playing college basketball all my life. I was practicing on my Little Tikes hoop for these exact moments and for it to play out like this is crazy."
After Gonzaga defeated USC to advance to the Final Four: "We just tried to stay moving. We didn't let the ball get too sticky. We kept moving, flashing into the high post. It was a lot for them to deal with — good cuts off the baseline, vertical cuts off the wings."
After he hit a buzzer-beater to beat UCLA in overtime: "Stuff like this is something you dream of as a kid and that you practice on your mini-hoop."
Suggs: "This is the greatest feeling I've ever been a part of."