Giles, Smith light up NCSIAA playoffs

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Harry Giles and Dennis Smith each holds a national top 10 ranking, with Giles slotting at No. 1 overall in the Class of 2016, and both players led their team to resounding playoff victories on Thursday.

Giles efficient and lethal

Rabun Gap attempted to slow down the pace of play versus top-seeded High Point (N.C.) Wesleyan, but Harry Giles was having none of it. The 6-10 junior scored 26 points to lead his team to a 50-38 win.

Though Giles scored more than half of his squad's points, he didn't hunt his shot or play outside the team concept. He simply made the most of his opportunities, showcasing the variety of scoring tools he possesses. He stepped out to the perimeter and nailed long jump shots, powered inside for drives, made one gorgeous set of back to the basket moves that he finished with a short hook, and got ahead on the break for slams.

Lunchtime games can lack intensity, but Giles brought energy and also competed on defense. He jumped passing lanes and cleaned up Wesleyan's defensive glass, always looking to get Wesleyan into early offense against a team that tried desperately to suppress open court action.

Rabun Gap would have been an intriguing opponent if it had Dusan Kovacevic at its disposal. The 6-8 power forward and unsigned senior would have given his team far greater firepower, but he broke his foot a couple months ago and that's how Rabun Gab fell to a No. 8 seed to begin with.

Junior wing Jaylen Johnson added 14 points for Wesleyan. The skinny athlete and shooter will be playing for scholarship offers this spring and summer. More on him later.

Wesleyan is hobbled as well, given that junior guard Kwe Parker is out of the remainder of the season after he broke his foot. He's apparently ahead of schedule, however, and should be able to return to action for the bulk of the travel season.

Wake Forest head coach was on hand to observe both Giles (Wake is a finalist) and committed Demon Deacon guard Brandon Childress, a teammate and close friend of Giles.

Smith on his game, makes it look easy

There's a devastating quality to Dennis Smith's offense. When he's cooking the junior point guard can light up the books quickly, and on Thursday he propelled Fayetteville (N.C.) Trinity Christian to a commanding early lead and ultimate 86-53 win over Neuse Christian Academy.

Smith’s ultimate potential is undeniable and unquestioned

Smith notched 19 points and six assists, doing most of his work in the first half and sitting out a healthy portion of the second. He opened by knocking in all three of his first three-pointers, and when Smith is making threes, he's nearly an impossible matchup for defenses.

Each time I see him it seems, Smith has gained a little more strength. Though still slender, he now possesses a power at 6-3 that he lacked previously. He can put his head down and create space for short jumpers, and of course he's among the best guard finishers in the junior class.

Meanwhile, he faced some extraordinary junk defense without getting frustrated. Facing a box-and-one and then a triangle-and-two, Smith simply found the open man and created good shots for his team. It's that progression as a playmaker that we'll be eager to observe in the coming months.

Suffice it to say he has had a big junior year and will remain a contender for top point guard in the class.

Minlend erupts for 33 points

Within the past week, an unsigned N.C. native committed to a high-major program. Ricky Council performed outstandingly this season and will make his way to Providence for college.

Well, Charles Minlend is following in those same footsteps. The 6-3 senior guard is talented, qualified and young for his class, and he’s finally beginning to receive some long-deserved offers.

Minlend scored 33 points for Concord (N.C.) Faith Assembly on Thursday to push his team into the state semifinals. He’s a natural scorer with strength, quickness and a jump shot. I’ll have a feature on him next week.

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