When Jalen Suggs publicly announced his commitment to Gonzaga back in January 2020, the 6-foot-4, 205-pound point guard was the reigning recipient of Minnesota's Mr. Basketball award, and a lauded five-star recruit out of Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis.
But basketball wasn't Suggs' sole focus in high school. He also played quarterback for Minnehaha's football team during the fall, and as a successful dual-sport athlete and high-level recruit, he was named the state's first-ever simultaneous Mr. Basketball and Mr. Football winner.
And Suggs believes that if he had passed on a career in basketball, and traveled down the football road instead, he most likely could've become a consensus first-round draft pick in that sport too.
"In the winter or late fall before the basketball season started, I told [my dad] that I wanted to play football. That's something that I want to go pursue in college, and it's something that I love doing," Suggs told The Zach Gelb Show on Monday. "We had talked about it a little bit before, but I was really serious. And we sat down and a had a real man-to-man conversation, and kind of broke everything down, as far as pros and cons and what it would look like for each sport. Not only in the present, but in the future as well, talking 15-20 years down the line.
"When you're in a position like this, where I am, to make generation wealth -- money not only for my kids, but my kids' kids -- it's something that you can't really pass up. So, for as much as I loved football -- and I'll always cherish it and watch it and follow it -- basketball was the route that I had to go... No doubt [I could've been a first-round NFL Draft pick]. I always have the utmost confidence in myself. I never really had the time to sit and perfect my craft in football, just because basketball took up the spring, the winter, and the summer.
"Once fall came, then I was strictly football. But, when you're talking about just taking three to four months out of the year and then not really touching the football again anymore, I think if I really dedicated a lot more time to it like I did with basketball, I definitely could've [been drafted]."
Suggs, who's currently ranked the third overall prospect and second overall guard on The Ringer's 2021 NBA Draft big board, started in all 30 games for the top-ranked Bulldogs last season, averaging 14.4 points per game with a team-high 4.5 assists and 1.9 steals. The 19-year-old freshman also scored a team-high 22 points in Gonzaga's national title game loss to Baylor, and before the Bulldogs' perfection bid fell short, Suggs made a stunning game-winning half-court shot in overtime against UCLA in the Final Four.
The NBA will hold its annual draft lottery on Tuesday, June 22, with the Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons, and Orlando Magic all given a league-high 14-percent chance to win the top overall pick.
The entire conversation between Suggs and Gelb can be accessed in the audio player above.
You can follow The Zach Gelb Show on Twitter @ZachGelb and Tom Hanslin @TomHanslin.