Former prep stars in the NBA

Prep Scene

With NBA season upon us, this week’s column will feature a few former metro area high school players who are currently on league rosters.

Tyus Jones (Apple Valley), Memphis Grizzlies

Photos courtesy Wikipedia Tyus Jones

Jones, a 6’0” point guard, has developed into one of the league’s best backups averaging 8.7 points, 2.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game.

He led Apple Valley to the Class 4A state championship in 2013 as a junior and went on to his selection as Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball as well as to the McDonald’s All-American Team. In college, he led Duke University to the 2015 NCAA championship and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

Tre Jones (Apple Valley), San Antonio Spurs

Photos courtesy Wikipedia Tre Jones

Jones, a 6’3” point guard, is projected as a starter for the Spurs after averaging 6.0 points, 2.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game.

As a sophomore at Duke University, he was named ACC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year averaging 16.2 points, 6.4 assists and 4.2 rebounds.

Jones’ prep career included Class 4A state championships in 2013, 2015, 2017, and a runner-up finish in 2018. As a senior in 2018, he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball and selected to play in the McDonald’s All-American game.

Jalen Suggs (Minnehaha Academy), Orlando Magic

Suggs, a 6’4” guard, is projected as a starter after averaging 11.8 points, 3.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists as a rookie.

He was the No. 5 first-round pick of the Magic after an outstanding one-year stint at Gonzaga University, leading them to the NCAA championship game in 2021.

Suggs led Minnehaha Academy to Class 2A state titles in 2016, 2017 and 2018. As a senior, he was Minnesota Mr. Basketball and selected to play in the 2020 McDonald’s All-American game.

Amir Coffey (Hopkins), Los Angeles Clippers

Photos courtesy Wikipedia Amir Coffey

Coffey, a 6’4” guard, averaged 9.0 points per game last season and worked his way into the rotation during his second season after an outstanding collegiate career at the University of Minnesota.

While at Hopkins, he was named Minnesota Mr. Basketball and Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year in 2016. Coffey led Hopkins to the Class 4A state boys basketball championship in 2016.

McKinley Wright IV (Champlain Park), Dallas Mavericks

Wright, a 6’0” point guard, recently signed a two-way contract and will likely split time between the NBA and G League this season. Prior to signing with the Mavericks, he signed a two-way contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves last season and played for the Phoenix Suns in the 2022 NBA Summer League.

Collegiately, Wright enjoyed an outstanding career at the University of Colorado. earning first team Pac-12 honors while averaging 15.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.1 steals per game.

At Champlain Park, Wright led them to an undefeated regular season and Class 4A state runner-up finishes in 2015 and 2017. Wright was named Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball in 2017.

Zeke Nnaji (Hopkins), Denver Nuggets

Nnaji, a 6’9” forward who averaged 6.6 points and 3.6 rebounds in his second NBA season, is projected to compete for reserve minutes.

He declared for the 2020 NBA draft after earning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and First Team All-Pac 12 honors while averaging 16.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game for the University of Arizona.

As a senior in high school Nnaji averaged 24.1 points and 9.4 rebounds, leading Hopkins to the 2019 Class 4A state championship.

Jericho Sims (Cristo Rey Jesuit), New York Knicks

Sims, a 6’9” forward, signed a partially guaranteed contract with the Knicks in his second season in the NBA.

He played collegiately at the University of Texas for four years averaging 9.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks as a senior. At Cristo Rey Jesuit, Sims averaged 25 points and 10 rebounds per game and is the school’s all-time leading scorer.

Kendall Brown (Eastridge) Indiana Pacers

Brown, a 6’8” forward, is currently on a two-way contract with the NBA Pacers and Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the G League.

He declared for the 2022 NBA draft after a freshman season in which he averaged 9.7 points and 4.9 rebounds for Baylor University. 

As a sophomore, Brown averaged 17.6 points per game, leading East Ridge to its first Class 4A state tournament. He transferred to Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kansas) and went on to become a McDonald’s All-American.

Quite an impressive group.

Have an opinion? Share it below.