Years ago, watching Daniel Giddens at the Real Deal on the Rock, I knew he'd become a fixture on the grassroots recruiting circuit. He stood 6-8 even as a freshman and already ran the court with easy, loping strides. His offensive game was basically non-existent at that time, but of course one learns not to expect much refinement from young big men.
By his sophomore year he had grown to 6-10, 220 pounds. I watched him during that 2012-13 season and appreciated his focus toward becoming a dedicated post player. He rebounded extremely well versus players two years his senior and also blocked shots and created some scoring opportunities for himself at point-blank range.
Given his size, mobility and blossoming strength, Giddens played his way into the early national top 10 in the Class of 2015. Accordingly, Florida, North Carolina, Duke, N.C. State, Georgetown, Kentucky, Tennessee and of course the major in-state programs were giving chase.
He toured the grassroots circuit last spring and summer, impressing individually at USA Basketball and with Game Elite at travel tournaments. His progress was evident at the Peach State Showcase, where he continually was the most physical inside player on the court.
By fall, Giddens had won offers from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Louisville, Marquette, Maryland, N.C. State, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA and Vanderbilt. Those national programs obviously saw a lot to like, and thus the young center's opportunity at the major conference level was assured.
Giddens battled a concussion earlier this season that held him out of action at events such as the High School OT Invitational in December. Nevertheless, his Marietta (Ga.) Wheeler squad has played at numerous high-profile tournaments and thus his scouting report is fairly thorough for a junior.
Bottom line, he remains much better on defense than offense. Giddens is a supreme shotblocker and hard-nosed rebounder, particularly on the defensive backboard. He understands that his role includes enforcement, and he warms to the task. His advanced strength also enables him to play stout position defense, a talent that should bear even more fruit as he gains experience.
The story on offense reads differently. Giddens doesn't yet have a scoring identity, lacks go-to moves and doesn't demonstrate much comfort facing the basket. His offensive game will need to be built from the ground up, and that process will take time.
Still, a true center with good athleticism, strength and toughness can't be taken for granted, and suffice it to say the coaches on his trail hardly have overlooked his talent. He continues to court elite programs, as he recently visited Ohio State and plans to make a trip to Arizona as well. He plans to cut his list soon.