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You may have heard West St. Paul mentioned during the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament as freshman Jalen Suggs nailed a highlight-worthy buzzer beater to win the game. The player bios for Suggs, a freshman playing for Gonzaga University in Washington, frequently list West St. Paul as his hometown.
Suggs only spent a few early years here in West St. Paul before moving to St. Paul, but he does have deep roots across the border with the West Side Boosters. He played both basketball and football (he was recruited to play college football but turned it down) with the West Side Boosters, returns to talk to the kids, and has donated awards to the program. The West Side Boosters are a family affair—his dad coaches, his younger sister still plays, and his mom has served on the board.
“Suggs is a heck of an athlete,” said West Side Boosters Vice President Bob Cruz. “He’s a good kid, and humble too.”
Suggs won three straight state basketball titles playing for Minnehaha Academy (which some press mistakenly credit to West St. Paul!), only missing out on a fourth thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic ending the season early. Though he still managed to become the first player to win the Minnesota Mr. Basketball and Mr. Football awards. In 2020, he went to play for Gonzaga and is likely to be a top pick in this year’s NBA Draft.
“I think that’s just part of my competitive nature and my competitive spirit,” Suggs told the Star Tribune back in November. “That’s something that I’ve had since I was a little kid. When the stage is big and the opponent is even bigger, I’m ready to go out and play. Just to make a statement.”
The NCAA Championship game is Monday, April 5 with the Gonzaga Bulldogs facing the Baylor Bears.
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