St. Paul’s Jalen Suggs taken No. 5 overall by Orlando

Jalen Suggs, fittingly, was surrounded by family as his dream came true Thursday night in New York.

The St. Paul product’s head was tucked into his lap as he became overcome with emotion when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced the Orlando Magic had selected Suggs fifth overall in the NBA Draft.

Sporting a shiny silver suit, Suggs met Silver on center stage. It was a fitting outfit for Suggs, who was selected to be the star around which Orlando’s rebuild will be constructed. On ABC’s broadcast, NBA analyst and former NBA standout Jalen Rose said Suggs is going to Orlando to “be the leader, and the glue.”

Fellow analyst Chiney Ogwumike, a forward for the Los Angeles Sparks, said Suggs was one of many prospects to work out pre-draft in Los Angeles. She noted Suggs was always the first guy in the gym, and the last one out. And he was always sporting a great attitude.

“Jalen Suggs is the quintessential captain,” Ogwumike said. “He’s going to do great things in Orlando.”

It’s what he’s done everywhere he’s been, from the youth ranks to Minnehaha Academy to Gonzaga. It’s what the 20-year-old guard plans to do in Orlando. Asked Thursday night what his long-term goal is in the NBA, Suggs said it’s to be a champion.

“That’s it for me. That’s the peak of the mountaintop, being able to have a parade with the city, everyone on the team celebrating together,” he said. “Thinking about that just brings me happiness and gets me excited. For me, that’s the peak of the mountaintop.”

And he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get there.

“Whether that’s to guard and score, whether that’s to come out and facilitate if somebody else is having a hot night, or shut down a star player on the other team,” Suggs said. “I feel like my versatility I’m going to bring … will allow us to do a lot of different things as a team and succeed, because at the end of the day, I just want to win. I want to win for myself, for the city, for the franchise and for everybody else on the team.”

Suggs was surprised during his post-selection interview with ABC — which he did alongside his parents, Larry and Molly — by a congratulatory video from UConn guard Paige Bueckers. a good friend who graduated from Hopkins.

Earlier in the day, it was Suggs offering the congratulations. He spent his Thursday morning watching great friend and fellow St. Paul native Suni Lee win gold in the Olympic women’s gymnastics all-around final. Immediately after, he texted Lee congratulations, and videos of his celebration.

“What a great accomplishment for her. I’m so proud of her,” he said. “To see her do that, and now I get to come out and do this, it’s amazing. Minnesota sports and athletics is on the rise, and there’s two great examples in one day.”

Indeed. Suggs, specifically, is a prime example for Minnesota boys basketball players to follow. There have been some great ones in recent years, from Tyus and Tre Jones to Gary Trent Jr. and Zeke Nnaji, among others. But none had been selected in the NBA Draft nearly as high as Suggs, nor did they have his star power.

Asked what his achievement means for Minnesota’s next wave of athletes, Suggs said, “Just showing them that it’s possible.”

“Showing them that through the hard work, the dedication, the faithfulness to perfect your craft that you can get here at the highest level,” he added. “I’m a perfect example of it, coming from not much and just a hardworking, dedicated family. To this point, it’s amazing.

“So, I’m just hoping that every kid back home sees it, recognizes that it’s possible and goes and works for it if that’s what they want.”

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