Exchange after title game joined past and present

Courtesy Gonzaga U.

When Baylor University Assistant Coach Jared Nuness and Gonzaga University guard Jalen Suggs exchanged congratulatory hugs after the Bears defeated the Zags 86-70 for the NCAA men’s national basketball championship last month, the nationwide audience saw it as a common occurrence between members of opposing teams.

However, the state of Minnesota saw history, since the exchange was between the past and the present of Minnesota’s finest.

The present

It has been quite the year for Suggs.

After an outstanding high school career at Minnehaha Academy—including three Class 2A championships in 2017, 2018 and 2019—the 6’4” guard signed with Gonzaga University and led them to their best season in school history.

Suggs averaged 14.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game in a season in which the Zags finished with a 31-1 record, entering the championship game with an undefeated record.

He added to his superstar status with a game-winning shot at buzzer against UCLA in the Final Four semifinals and followed that with a 22-point performance in the championship final.

Suggs is expected to be among the top three picks in the 2021 NBA draft.

Courtesy Baylor U. Jared Nuness

The past

Nuness, a 5’11” guard, was among the top two high school players in Minnesota during his senior season at Hopkins in 1997, the other being former Minneapolis North and future UCONN All-American Khalid El-Amin.

He was the Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year, Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year, two-time all-state performer, and runner-up for Minnesota Mr. Basketball before accepting a scholarship to play basketball at Valparaiso.

After his four-year collegiate career—including three as a starter—from 1999-2002, he served as an assistant at Hopkins, then as head coach at Park Center (2005-06) and Bloomington Kennedy (2007-2010).

In 2010, Nuness moved on to Baylor spending twos years as the director of video operations, five years as director of player personnel, and the last four as special assistant and director of player development.

Past and present meet

The brief exchange between Suggs (the present), one of the best players to ever lace them up in Minnesota, and Nuness (the past), one of the top ballers ever in state history, is a scene that will forever make Minnesotans proud.

It was quite the scene if only for a moment.

About Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald

Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald is a contributing columnist to the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. He can be reached at mcdeezy05@gmail.com.

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