Harry Giles Goes Scoreless in Duke Debut, But It’s All About March
Harry Giles went scoreless in 4 minutes in his Duke debut on Monday night, a 65-55 win over Tennessee State.
But the Giles we all saw on Dec. 19 likely will have little or no resemblance to the Giles we will see come March, when Duke hopes to challenge for Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s sixth 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.”
As ZAGSBLOG earlier reported he would, Giles stepped onto a court for a game for the first time in 13 months. He obviously has a lot of rust to shake off.
“He played four minutes a took one shot,” an NBA scout who was at the game said. “Not a lot to go on.”
Said Giles: “It’s just getting used to the speed. It was fast, too, so it was just fun to be out there, just trying to figure it out.”
One of the nation’s top recruits, he missed his senior season in high school with torn knee ligaments in his right knee and then missed the first 11 games at Duke after having his left knee scoped in October.
The 6-foot-10 Giles was once projected as the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, and is now projected at No. 13 by DraftExpress.com. He has been compared to Chris Webber.
There had been some debate about whether Giles would or should play at all this season, but in the end Duke decided he was physically able to do so. And Giles surely wanted to get out on the floor with his friends and teammates.
NBA teams will ultimately have their doctors determine the health of his knees ahead of next year’s Draft.
For the next three months, however, Giles will be focused on shaking off the rest and jelling with fellow freshmen Jayson Tatum (14 points) and Marques Bolden, along with the experienced core of Luke Kennard (24 points), Grayson Allen (12 points), Matt Jones and Amile Jefferson (18 rebounds).
Monday was the first time Duke had all three freshmen on the court in the same game.
“It’s just a matter of him being in shape,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said of Giles. “He hasn’t played in 14 months. And he has to fit in, and he will. But it can’t be about him, Bolden or Tatum or whatever, it’s gotta be about Duke. Just fit in, and they want to. It’s not like they don’t want to.”
The road ahead for this Duke team will be fascinating to watch, and if they are going to compete for an NCAA title, the Harry Giles we all saw on Monday night won’t look anything like the one we see in March.
Photo: Duke Athletics
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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.