Duke does it again. Another major recruiting victory occurred for the program on Friday, as the big man who just vowed himself to Mike Krzyzewski’s team is the latest and greatest coup for the Blue Devils program.
The top-rated player in the class of 2016, Harry Giles, announced his intention to play for Coach K next fall. Giles’ decision leapfrogs the Blue Devils over Michigan State at the top of 247 Sports’ rankings of the best recruiting classes for 2016.
Giles was originally supposed to announce on Nov. 14, but last week he bumped his decision up to Nov. 12. Then, after tearing the ACL in his right knee on Tuesday night, the family scrambled and organized with ESPN to move up his verbal announcement even sooner. Giles’ Duke declaration was made at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., where he’s spending his senior season.
Giles averaged 23.9 points and 12.5 rebounds last season, while playing for Wesleyan High School in his home state of North Carolina.
For Giles, it’s been a whirlwind week. His knee injury came in the first game of the season — and promptly ended his high school playing career. For an idea of what kind of player Duke is getting, here’s some of what the 6-foot-11 Giles did over the summer.
Giles has previously endured a major injury, one to his other knee (ACL and MCL tears). In my in-depth profile of Giles, he explains his road to recovery and what made him become the most coveted recruit in this class. The setback doesn’t necessarily mean Giles’ NBA future will be hampered. If he’s able to return to form and have a breakout freshman season for Duke come 2016-17, he’ll still be in the running to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft nearly a year and a half from now.
For Duke, it’s built one of the strongest freshman classes in school history, and it continues a four-year recruiting run for Krzyzewski that includes coups such as Jabari Parker, Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow, Brandon Ingram, Luke Kennard and Derryck Thornton, in addition to five-star 2016 studs Frank Jackson and Jayson Tatum.
The Tatum-Giles connection/friendship had recruiting prognosticators predicting Duke as the eventual landing spot for Giles for months now. Despite being from different parts of the country, AAU travel schedules and USA Basketball enabled the two to become friends, dating back to their early teen years. Both have openly discussed the idea of teaming up to play college ball together. In July, Tatum revealed his verbal pledge to the Blue Devils. Jackson did the same seven weeks later.
Until Tuesday night, Giles rightfully thought the hardest part of his life in his senior season would be making and announcing his college choice. But now surgery awaits (Giles told CBS Sports it should be next week) and rehab after. This is his last big moment until a year from now, when his college career will begin and he’ll have one of the most anticipated debuts since, well, guys named Okafor, or Wiggins, or Parker.