When Harry Giles suited up for USA Basketball last June in Uruguay for the 16-under squad, he couldn't have known that his playing career would be halted for upwards of one year.
Giles tore his ACL, MCL and meniscus, a full rotation injury requiring surgery and forcing him to miss the entire 2012-13 campaign. When he'll return is unclear, but obviously some rust and hesitancy is likely to accompany him when he next dons a uniform.
When we released our updated Class of 2016 rankings a week ago, many fans within the Scout.com network and on Twitter asked how a guy who hadn't played seven months could possibly be ranked No. 1.
That's a valid question, and the quick — and certainly also valid — response is that Giles is expected to return to full form. A young person can recover from serious injury far more fully than an adult, and Giles was only 15-years-old at the time of the mishap. He has grown since that time, and an expanding frame and musculature should accelerate the healing process.
If one wants to argue that either Jayson Tatum or Thon Maker deserves to be No. 1 based on talent, that's reasonable. But based on the injury and the fact that Giles was No. 1 prior to it, his knee doesn't project as a concern going forward.
Fortunately from my standpoint, I watched Giles extensively as a freshman and rising sophomore. He's the goods, even if those goods presently are collecting a little dust on the shelf.
He's a modern, face-up forward who has grown to 6-9 yet possesses the quickness, reflexes and fluidity of a wing. He doesn't quite have the Kevin Durant-esque nimble feet — and that's a comparison people want to make, that I can't support — but overall projects as a combo forward or potentially a situational wing.
His jump shot features a high release, no hitches or glitches, and he possesses range to the three-point line. Giles also handles very well for a big guy, creates in one-on-one scenarios and rises for picturesque pull-up jumpers. He utilizes a crossover and explosive first step to attack all the way to the basket, and he's a springy finisher with the kind of sturdy frame that will enable him to become powerful once he stops growing.
In the post, he flashes to the low block and wields very quick turnaround jumpers that frequently find the mark. He's a potentially devastating offensive rebounder, too, and he loves to throw down tip-slams and lobs. Defensively, he's already a fairly good shotblocker who should be even more effective now that he's an inch taller from 2013.
Giles' game should thrive in fullcourt, halfcourt or total chaos. He combines excellent size and length with elite athleticism and skill, and he has proved to be clutch and competitive as games escalate in intensity. His recruitment naturally occupies space at the highest level, and in-state powers Duke and North Carolina — high school teammate Theo Pinson signed with the Tar Heels last fall — along with Kentucky are pacesetters.
We don't know when he'll return, but we can't wait to see it.