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Harry Giles showed brief flashes of athleticism and was entrenched in the seven-man rotation by the ...

Duke men's basketball 2016-17 player review: Harry Giles



Harry Giles

Season Breakdown:

Like fellow freshman big man Marques Bolden, Giles' first few months as a member of the Blue Devils were spent mostly on the sidelines. The Winston-Salem, N.C., native underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in October almost a year after he tore his ACL in November 2015, and although the timeline for Giles' return was set at about six weeks, he did not make his Duke debut until Dec. 19 against Tennessee State. And even when he made his way back to the court, it was slow going for the first-year forward as he tried to acclimate on the fly after not having played in a basketball game in more than a year.

Although Giles had his best game against Georgia Tech with 10 points and 12 rebounds before following it up just three days later with a 12-point performance in 24 minutes against Boston College, the freshman never scored in double figures again. From that point, he played more than 15 minutes on just four occasions and struggled to put the ball in the basket even when he was on the court. A prolific high-school scorer, Giles tallied just 17 points in seven games in the month of March.

Giles did, however, develop as a rebounder for the Blue Devils. Although he finished fourth on the team behind Amile Jefferson, Jayson Tatum and Luke Kennard, the 6-foot-10 forward came up with big boards at crucial times—he grabbed five in just nine minutes at Notre Dame Jan. 30 and knocked down two free throws to help seal the win, and in the ACC tournament against North Carolina, Giles' defense led to a highlight-reel alley-oop on the other end.

Results relative to expectations:

In no way is it truly fair to compare Giles to the incredibly lofty expectations that were set for him as he set foot in Durham last fall. Yes, he was the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2016, but he had just recovered from tearing the second of his ACLs and had gone more than a year without playing a live basketball game. 

That being said, even with a lower bar, Giles never really lived up to even half of the billing that many expected from him. Although some of his lack of athleticism was likely due to regaining lost confidence and strength in his knee, we never saw the freshman's shooting touch—either from mid- or long-range—and on the defensive end he could not take advantage of his size, getting whistled for 7.7 fouls per 40 minutes.

Where does he go from here? Giles was projected as a high-end lottery pick entering the season and some NBA experts even had him as the first overall pick. Now, DraftExpress' latest projection has him as the 24th overall pick going to the Brooklyn Nets—just ahead of teammate Kennard. There would be plenty of minutes for Giles in the Duke frontcourt if he decides to return, but the risk of another injury or another underwhelming season seems too much to ignore. Look for him to declare for the NBA Draft in the near future.


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