COLUMBIA — Ronnie Suggs remembers the recruiting visits like they were yesterday.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
Scott Suggs, his older brother, was a big-shot prospect, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard with college offers galore.
Ronnie, meanwhile, was still in middle school, wide-eyed and bright as schools like Washington, Illinois and Missouri vied for his older brother’s services. He was supposed to be seen and not heard on the visits, but Ronnie had other ideas.
“Ronnie asked more questions than Scott did a lot of times,” their mother, Cassandra Walker-Suggs, said with a chuckle. “He would say ‘So, you haven’t made the tournament in two years. What are your plans for next year?”
While Scott, Missouri’s Mr. Basketball in 2008, eventually settled on Washington, where he ended his career seventh all-time in three-point percentage, Ronnie eventually grew into a smooth-shooting 6-foot-6, 175-pound shooting guard with multiple college offers, himself.
However, the two-star prospect — a senior who attends Washington High School near St. Louis — essentially brought his recruitment to a close Sunday by committing to Missouri and coach Frank Haith. Check out his highlight tape here.
“When I was younger, I always wanted to go there,” Ronnie said. “It’s my dream school.”
Missouri may have tugged at his heartstrings, but it also made sense in his head. While intrigued by the other schools that offered — including St. Louis, Virginia Commonwealth, Duquesne, SIU-Edwardsville, Northern Colorado, Xavier and Cal-Poly — Suggs was impressed by how hard assistant coach Dave Leitao and head coach Frank Haith seemed to want him.
“They started keeping in contact with me toward the end of my sophomore year, and by this summer they were coming to all my games and watching,” Ronnie said. “Today, I woke up and just felt like this is the school for me.”
Ronnie said he likes Missouri’s drive-and-kick offense, which gives shooters plenty of open looks from long distance. Last season, he averaged 16.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.7 assists while leading Washington to a 17-9 record and a district title in Missouri’s biggest classification. He also made 32.6 percent of his three-pointers and 75.3 percent of his free throws.
“They see me fitting in as a combo guard that can play the two and also the one,” Ronnie said. “They see me as a player who can shoot the ball and make plays for other teammates…they also like my midrange game. They said it’s advanced for my age.”
Suggs, however, knows he needs to bulk up and he would like to refine his other skills, too. So although he does well in the classroom — his mother said he’s an honor student who has already racked up 20 college credits — Suggs recently decided to attend prep school next season and enroll at Missouri for the 2015-2016 academic year.
Suggs’ decision clearly helps Missouri, which has already secured commitments from two other players in the Class of 2014 and didn’t have room to take anyone else next season even prior to his commitment (though the Tigers are still pursuing 2014 five-star guard and Tiger legacy Devin Booker).
However, Suggs — who doesn’t turn 18 until the end of the basketball season — said he decided to attend prep school after he received his Missouri offer two weeks ago, and the decision to do so was his and his alone.
“They offered me, like, last Tuesday and I told them afterward,” said Ronnie, who has not settled on a prep school destination. “The plan was to redshirt my freshman year because they want me to get stronger, but I told them I was thinking about going to prep school and they said that’s a great decision. That’s always good for college players so they can get used to being away from home.”
Walker-Suggs said Ronnie's older brother — who played for the Milwaukee Bucks' summer-league team a few months back — even suggested he go to prep school, and added that it's something Scott might have considered himself if he could relive his recruitment over again.
However, Ronnie's decision to do so is just one way his recruiting journey will differ from his older brother’s.
“I always wanted to be like Scott and have the recruiting experience,” Ronnie said. “Mine wasn’t like his because he had offers from everybody. But I thought for me and my situation, I did the best I could have.”
Now, his mother – who still remembers Ronnie’s inquisitive nature on Scott’s recruiting trips — hopes other kids who dream early about playing for a particular school can find some inspiration in her son’s story.
“When my oldest son was being recruited, Ronnie was a wide-eyed little boy,” Walker-Suggs said. “Then I watched him study film and practice and work on his grades and listen to his brother, and to see him grow from that little boy to what he is now, it’s a blessing.”