Three-point assassin: Suggs emerging among state’s best from long rangeWoodbury's Renard Suggs has quietly been compiling an impressive 2012-13 resume that has put him in the conversation for the coveted Mr. Basketball award.
By: Mike Longaecker, edtior, Woodbury Bulletin
All Renard Suggs needed was a reminder.
Coming out of a timeout last week at a home game against Cretin-Derham Hall, Woodbury head boys basketball coach Scott Swansson told Suggs he was just three points shy of his 1,000th career point.
So when Suggs got his chance moments later after grabbing a steal, he knew just what to do. Instead of slamming the ball home – a move that’s certainly in his repertoire – Suggs turned to his signature shot: the 3-pointer.
“It’s a big deal because it’s been a goal since I’ve been in, like, ninth grade – I always wanted to accomplish it,” Suggs said later about joining Woodbury’s 1,000-point club. “It’s a big accomplishment. It’s an honor, too, being one of the top scorers in the school.”
While other top players like Apple Valley’s Tyus Jones and Robbinsdale Cooper’s Rashad Vaughn have been grabbing the spotlight this season in Minnesota prep basketball, Suggs has quietly been compiling an impressive 2012-13 resume that has put him in the conversation for the coveted Mr. Basketball award: he’s currently the Suburban East Conference’s top scorer – carrying a 21 points per-game average – and is among the top 3-point shooters in the state.
Through last week – a stretch that saw Suggs score a combined 49 points, including 24 in Woodbury’s Friday win over rival East Ridge – the senior guard was eighth in the state with 43 3-three pointers made.
For a while this year, Swansson said Suggs was draining 3s at a 43 percent clip. Sinking the deep ball 30 percent of the time usually raises eyebrows, Swansson noted.
So the coach doesn’t bark when he Suggs pulling up from behind the arc.
“When he’s open, he just lets it fly,” Swansson said.
Swansson said people have asked him why he lets Suggs fire from distances in the range of the NBA 3-point line. The reason, he said, is simple.
“Because I’ve seen him make them – a lot of times,” Swansson said.
And, yes, there is an especially dangerous part of the floor. Suggs said the top of the key is his money-ball zone.
“That’s when they start going in, basically,” Suggs said.
A shooting prodigy
Suggs didn’t get good at shooting 3s by accident. When he’s not on the floor with the rest of the Royals, Suggs can be found at a local gym practicing with his father.
“Just shooting hours of shots,” Suggs said.
Suggs said he’s had a knack for shooting 3s since he can remember. As a youngster, he remembers being the one called on to take the big shot in games.
“Since I was little, I’ve always been able to shoot good,” Suggs said.
Over the years, however, he’s refined his technique. No more unbalanced shots. He now has the body strength and experience to square up right for a more controlled shot.
The secret to sinking the 3, Suggs said he has learned, lies in the follow-through. Instead of launching up the shot, he’s learned to hold his release.
The result has been effective, he said.
“It just goes in most of the time,” Suggs said.
Indeed, there’s a confidence in the senior’s game that has also been developing, Swansson said.
Suggs arrived at Woodbury as a sophomore after he and his brother Rickey Suggs Jr. – a 2012 graduate and also a member of the school’s 1,000 points club – enrolled after their former school, St. Bernard’s, closed.
It was evident right away to Swansson that the younger Suggs could shoot, but the coach said he witnessed a remarkable transformation between his sophomore and junior years. In 2012, the Suggs brothers helped lead Woodbury to the Class 4A State Basketball Tournament.
Swansson said he wondered if Suggs could make another leap between his junior and senior years.
“He really has,” the coach said.
Suggs said he has continued to draw interest from Division 1 colleges, but his plans for next year haven’t changed. He plans on attending a junior college in either Texas, North Dakota or Wyoming to strengthen his game. After that, he hopes to make the big jump. Schools on his list include the University of Minnesota, Iowa State and North Dakota State University.
Swansson said he thinks Suggs could make that leap.
“He’s got the tools to do it,” Swansson said.
For now, Suggs’ focus is on finishing out the season strong with Woodbury.
“I just want to go to state again,” Suggs said. “That’s my big goal.”