Update (11/6/2015): Harry Giles has signed to Duke.
In the world of high school basketball, there are stars, and then there are superstars, and then there are players like Harry Giles from Wesleyan Christian Academy in High Point, North Carolina. Recently, I had a chance to speak to Giles over the phone, getting to know one of the top recruits of the class of 2016 not just as a player, but also as a kid handling a sudden onset of fame and fandom. From the beginning of the conversation, it was clear that Giles was mature and interview savvy, stating that “it’s a blessing, something you always work for” when asked how it feels to be a top recruit in the nation. He noted how despite admitting that it’s cool to be in the spotlight, he still prays every night, having been humbled by a knee injury and accompanying surgery that sat him out for his sophomore season.
Wanting to know more about Harry Giles than what various online hoop mixtapes had to offer, I asked Harry about life growing up and his various interests in and outside the game of basketball. Before basketball, he played football and baseball, preferring the sport of baseball, in which Giles excelled at first base, third base, and in the outfield. The inner kid in Giles came out when he sounded immensely more excited to answer questions about subjects like his favorite shoe to ball in (Jordan Steel 10’s) or who his all time favorite player is (Michael Jordan). He enjoys playing NBA 2K with his friends (using the Heat or Thunder), but admitted “I’m better on the court than I am at 2k”, something that may be a problem among his video-game playing friends, but that is far from discouraging for college scouts who probably are happy that his real game is better than his controller skills.
When asked what his most recent pre-game meal had been, Giles laughed and said, “Chick-fil-A”. Hey, if I could have a 96 overall rating from ESPN and still eat Chick-fil-A before a game, I would be the first person to order a chicken sandwich with no pickles, waffle fries, and a sweet tea. In terms of interests outside of basketball, he loves to just hang out with his boys, separating him from all the attention that perennially surrounds him. His favorite movie is Friday, and Ice Cube could tell you that it wouldn’t be much of a shock to see Giles mess around and get a triple-double. For Giles, student life can admittedly be difficult at times, but he still realizes the importance of getting schoolwork out of the way before basketball. Despite noting that one of the most exciting things about being a top recruit is having people in various states come up and ask for pictures with him, Giles says he still treats everyone the same, regardless of who they are, and sounded more than sincere when talking.
As a player, Giles noted versatility as what he believed to be the most impressive part of his game. When watching Giles play, to describe his game as versatile is practically an understatement, as the 6’10 stretch four can dribble and pass like an elite point guard, shoot a jumper, or throw down one of the most vicious dunks one has ever seen (a 360 or windmill being his favorite in game dunk he has done). Also, Giles does not think there is any one player that his game should be compared to, but noted the obvious elements of the Kevin Durant comparison. Both are freaks of nature in the world of basketball, with the bodies of forwards but the skillset of nearly every other position combined. However, Giles admits that his jump shot is not yet at the KD level, but did say his own mid-range is “really cool”. In terms of the recruiting process, Giles has offers from schools like Duke, Kentucky, Florida State, Kansas, Baylor, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Syracuse, Maryland, Texas, UNLV, and Wake Forest. Having met several of the top coaches in the nation, Giles noted that South Carolina assistant coach Lamont Evans was a joy to meet, calling the man “hilarious”.
In his junior season at Wesleyan, Giles spoke on how important it is to him to be back from injury, and how ready he is to lead the team. From our ten minute conversation, I could feel how dedicated Giles was to achieving his goals, and how much truth he put behind his speech. The kid is ready to do all the things that the scouts believe he can, and to even skyrocket past those expectations (sky high as they are). In all honesty, Giles could be the future number one pick in the NBA three years or so from now, and his talent is in the once in a generation type category. Thankfully, the immense talent belongs to a humble, energetic, and polite kid like Harry Giles, a guy for whom it’s hard not to root for, even if his 2k game may still need a little work.
P.S. Thank you to my cousin Cooper Neimand for getting me the phone call with Harry.