Harry Giles has been installed as the No. 1 basketball prospect in the country for the 2016 class in rankings released today by 247Sports.com.
Harry Giles: No. 1 prospect in 2016 class
But, unfortunately, basketball will have to be on the back burner for Giles for at least a little while.
Giles, a rising sophomore at High Point (N.C.) Wesleyan Christian Academy, suffered a serious knee injury last week while playing for the U.S. under-16 team at the FIBA Americas Championship in Maldonado, Uruguay.
The 6-9, 210-pound Giles was among seven 2016 prospects who “played up” on the 12-man U.S. under-16 team. He was in the second game of the FIBA Championships against Argentina on June 12. He suffered the injury on a drive to the basket when he was caught between a pair of defenders. According to reports, he tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee and also did damage to his meniscus.
Giles will undergo surgery to repair the damage sometime in the weeks ahead. There is no immediate timetable for his return to action. An injury this serious could keep him out of action for up to one year.
“I am determined to come back stronger,” Giles said in a phone interview with 247Sports.com after returning to the U.S. earlier this week. “I am going to work hard on my rehab and do everything I can.”
Plenty of athletes have come back from similar knee injuries. But Giles had so much going for him as college recruiters – including Kentucky’s John Calipari, North Carolina’s Roy Williams and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski -- had flocked to his AAU games during the April observation period.
Giles first became a national name at the Team USA trials last fall. He then went out and, joined by 2014 North Carolina verbal Theo Pinson, helped lead Wesleyan Christian Academy to a 23-5 record and the North Carolina independent school Class 3A state championship.
Giles will likely miss the 2013-14 season following surgery to his injured knee.
He was named as the MaxPreps.com national freshman of the year and an all-state pick as he averaged 12.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. He boasts career highs of 21 points (twice), 18 rebounds, and five assists (twice). He scored a team-high 18 points in the 2013 NCISAA Class 3A title game win over a 34-win Greensboro Day School squad.
“I was happy with everything,” Giles said. “We were fortunate to be able to win the state championship. I got to play with some great players.”
Representing His Country
Giles turned 15 in April and went right into the AAU season, playing up one level for the CP3 16-and-under team. He also went back to the Team USA trials in early June and earned his spot on the American U16 squad.
“It was a great honor to go out there and be picked to represent your country,” Giles said. “You don’t get that opportunity very often.”
The FIBA Americas Championship started on a high note for Giles and Team USA. He had 14 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals in 17 minutes of USA’s 130-31 rout of Mexico.
But Giles’ knee injury came just seven minutes into the team’s second game of the tournament against Argentina and he was lost for the tournament.
Playing without Giles, the U.S. team went on and finished 5-0 and won the FIBA Americas gold medal in the process. Team USA coach Don Showalter said he was impressed with how Giles handled himself after the injury.
“Once he got hurt, he sat on the bench and cheered on his teammates,” said Showalter, a decorated high school coach from Iowa City, Iowa. “He was happy for them as well. That says a lot about his character.”
Once the tournament was over, it was a tough 10-hour trip home from South America. The team flew from Montevideo, Uruguay, to San Paolo, Brazil. The next stop was Houston before the team members scattered from there to their hometowns.
“It was better for me that it happened in one of our earlier games,” Giles said. “By the time we were ready to come home, I was over it. I had time to think about it.”
From working with Giles last fall as well as during the Team USA practices and trip to Uruguay, Showalter could see what makes him a special player.
“Harry is a great teammate,” Showalter said. “He is very humble. He is just concerned about his team doing well. That showed up during the trials. Obviously, he is long. At 6-9, he can handle the basketball. Probably one of his best assets would be his passing. That showed up a lot during the training camp.”
This U16 U.S. team will reconvene for another camp in October and more trials next spring before chasing the U17 FIBA World Championship next summer. Giles’ participation with that team will be dependent on how he is able to come back from his knee injury.
Giles’ high school coach, former University of Maryland standout Keith Gatlin, told the Greensboro News & Record he will not be rushed.
"To be honest with you, it really doesn't matter because we just want to make sure Harry gets healthy," Gatlin told the newspaper. "Because he's so young, I think he'll be fine in the long run."
A Skilled Big Man
In his play this past year, Giles has shown the ability to score inside, work the boards for easy points and also step out as needed.
“I think people like my versatility,” he said. “I can dribble the ball at 6-9. I can shoot midrange shots and I have good strength as well.”
“But my biggest thing is I want to win. I want to be the best and win. I think toughness and being physical are the best parts of my game.”
Asked where he could fit in at the college level, Giles said, “I would say I would probably play the four. But I have been working on things so I could also play the three.”
Speaking of colleges, plenty of top schools have step forward with scholarship offers. In fact, it was reported that UNC’s Williams was so impressed with Giles he offered him six months earlier than any previous Tar Heels recruit. (That distinction was previously held by then-sophomore Kendall Marshall in September 2007.)
Besides UNC, Giles boasts offers from Florida State, Kentucky, Maryland, N.C. State, Ohio State, Virginia and Wake Forest.
Duke has also been involved but had not offered. If and when that does happen, Giles was asked if his choice could come down to those two rivals – UNC and Duke.
“I like both of them,” he said. “They are both instate schools. I have been to both schools and I like them a lot.”
Giles said he appreciated being rated as the early No. 1 player in the 2016 class, but he does not plan to dwell on it.
“It is a big honor, but I know I have to keep working hard,” he said. “I can’t let the hype get to me. I have to stay humble and let the rest come.”
Jerry Meyer, the national basketball recruiting editor for 247Sports.com, talked about what he saw in Giles to peg him at the top spot.
“Giles has the total package as an elite forward prospect,” he said. “He has length, strength, athleticism and a well rounded, fairly refined skill package. On top of all this, he is a competitive and intelligent player.
“I expect him to bounce back from his injury and be as strong as ever and even more motivated. He is the type of player that every school in the country would love to have.”
Click here for video highlights of Giles in action on YouTube.
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