Every day, no matter where he goes, High Point Wesleyan basketball player Harry Giles gets asked The Question.
Giles is a 6-foot-10 junior. Before he suffered a serious knee injury last year, he was the No. 1 ranked player in his class. And despite missing all of his sophomore season in high school, Giles is still No. 3 in the nation right now. And everybody wants to know where he’ll go to college. Giles has offers from Duke, N.C. State, North Carolina, Wake Forest and just about every major program you can think of.
“Man, I get asked a ton, more than you can imagine,” Giles said after scoring 21 points in a 60-58 win at Providence Day Tuesday night. “Honestly, I’ve lost count.”
Even at school, where kids see Giles every day, he cannot avoid The Question.
“Sometimes you want to walk down the hallway normally,” he said, “and then they hit you with, ‘You should go here,’ or ‘You should go there.’ Sometimes it gets annoying, but you just deal with it.”
If you have a favorite college, it’s hard to not want Giles to play for it. He’s nearly 7-feet tall and can handle the basketball like a guard. He has easy 3-point range. Want a comparison? Try a high school version of Kevin Garnett, or a right-handed Chris Bosh, but add even more athleticism. Among Giles’ 21 points Tuesday were four freakishly athletic dunks.
Giles has this suddenness to his moves. He gets into the motion quickly, and the dunk comes through a power that belies his still maturing body. When former Seattle SuperSonics’ dunkmeister Shawn Kemp was in high school, I can imagine his highlights looking a little something like Giles.
“He’s got such great physical attributes,” said ESPN national recruiting analyst Paul Biancardi, who attended Tuesday’s game. “The body is strong. He’s tall and athletic and explosive. Some guys have those attributes, but he utilizes them. His physical gifts open your eyes, but combine that with his developing skill – he’s a great passer with a good feel for the game – and he almost has the whole package already.”
N.C. recruiting analyst Rick Lewis of N.C. Prep Phenom first saw Giles when he was in 8th grade and came to one of Lewis’ camps.
“He was so head and shoulders above everybody else, it was unreal,” Lewis said. “The thing that separated him was that he was so unselfish. He doesn’t demand the ball all the time. He’s the type of kid you want to play with.”
Giles – who turns 17 in April – used those attributes to zoom up the national charts, until he tore his ACL and MCL in his left knee in early June 2013. He sat out the 2013-14 high school season, watching Wesleyan and All-American teammate Theo Pinson, now with North Carolina, celebrate a state championship. Giles just worked on his game, improved his shooting and studied his craft, from the sidelines, getting the view of a coach. He returned after the high school season and helped lead USA Basketball to a FIBA U17 World Championship gold medal.
And the start of his high school season couldn’t be better. Wesleyan is 3-0, ranked No. 2 nationally by USA Today, and has beaten two of North Carolina’s best teams in back-to-back games. Giles had 40 points and 20 rebounds in an 82-60 win over Charlotte’s Northside Christian last week.
“Harry is just great. He’s come back stronger than ever,” said Wesleyan coach Keith Gatlin, who was the 1983 N.C. state player of the year at Greenville’s Conley High. Gatlin played in college at Maryland. His roommate was Len Bias. “He’s always been able to shoot it, but he’s spent a lot of time shooting when he was hurt, and his form looks really good now. I think he’s better now than before he got hurt.”
Giles certainly was impressive Tuesday. He would rebound on one end and finish on the other. He scored on a couple of uber-athletic moves over another budding N.C. superstar, Providence Day junior Grant Williams. Most important, Giles had a way of being effective, like Lewis said, that didn’t require him demanding the ball over and over.
You watch him and you quickly get why everybody is always asking him that Question. But if he has a favorite, right now, Giles isn’t saying.
“I plan to cut down (his list of potential colleges) sooner than later,” he said. “Right now, the focus is on the season and getting better.”
Right now, it seems that Harry Giles is rather enjoying being the center of the circus. Wherever his team goes, it draws huge crowds, which include top players from other teams, and everybody just wanting to see him play.
“It’s like being a rock star,” he said. “It’s an amazing feeling. It’s something I always look forward to. Everybody is against you on the road, and at home they’re with you. It’s what you work for.”
And it’s why everybody keeps asking him The Question.