Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Duke’s Harry Giles Expected to Debut Monday Night vs. Tennessee State
Duke freshman big man Harry Giles is expected to make his debut Monday night against Tennessee State, multiple sources told ZAGSBLOG.
The game will be nationally televised on ESPN2 at 7 p.m.
The 6-foot-10 Giles at one point was projected as the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.com, which now has him at No. 13, behind fellow freshman teammate Jayson Tatum (No. 6) and ahead of teammate Marques Bolden (No. 16).
“If he plays [this season] and looks OK, he could be the first pick,” one NBA scout said of Giles. “If he plays and gets hurt, he’s going to drop.”
Giles had his left knee scoped in early October to clean up scar tissue after he tore ligaments three years ago.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has often emphasized his team’s long-term goals over any short-term jolt that might come from rushing Giles (and the other injured freshmen before him) into action before he’s healthy — and risking re-injury. He said during the preseason that Duke is “going to try to conduct our season appropriately” because the key question is “will we have all the talent available at the time you have the opportunity to win the championship?”
“Harry’s practicing, he hasn’t had as much contact yet,” Krzyzewski said Dec. 6 at the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.
“We’re hoping before Christmas, those two games. But I don’t want to put a gun to your head, like you have to do it. I’d like to see what he does during the exam period with a little bit more contact and go forward. But you can see in warmups he’s moving real well, he just hasn’t had the contact yet.
“I don’t want to make a mistake and bring him back too quickly.”
How good can Duke be once Giles is added to the mix?
“He’ll bring an extra dynamic to the team,” Amile Jefferson told me at the Jimmy V. “Just as you saw Jayson affect the game, Harry can do the same thing. And so can Marques and they will at different times so it’s just about getting those guys back and figuring out who we’re gonna be when they get back and just taking it a game at a time.”
Jefferson said Duke will have plenty of offensive options once Giles is added to the mix.
“I think we can be really good offensively, we can run a lot of different sets,” he said. “We can just go to one thing and pound it and keep using it offensively. And then when they find a way to stop it, we can go to something else because we have a lot of basketball players, a lot of guys who are comfortable putting the ball on the floor, making decisions and a lot of guys that can do a lot of different things, really versatile.”
Giles, meantime, wants to help Duke, the preseason No. 1 and currently ranked No. 5, win an NCAA championship.
“I”m trying to win a national championship, there’s no need for me to sugar coat anything or act like I’m not,” he told me in April at the Jordan Classic. “That’s my goal going in. I’m going to work hard and I’m willing to do anything to get it.”
Photo: USA Today Sports
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.