Injury Humbles Giles

HIGH POINT, N.C. – June 12, 2013 is a day Harry Giles won't forget.

Going up for a dunk in the third quarter of U.S. 16U's blowout of Argentina, Giles landed awkwardly and felt a twinge in his left knee.

The dunk was something Giles, the No. 1 player in the class of 2016, had done 1,000 times before. The twinge, however, was different.

Giles had torn his ACL, MCL and meniscus, essentially shredding all the major stabilizers of his knee while simultaneously ending his sophomore season before it started. It's the kind of setback that changes the path of an athlete's career.

It's done that for Giles, just not in the way you might think.

"In my opinion, I see it as a blessing in disguise," said Giles, a 6-foot-10, 205-pound forward from High Point (N.C.) Wesleyan. "It makes me work harder and has helped me stay humble. I got a little carried away, not too much, but just a little bit with the attention and everything. It's brought me back to myself; it could have gotten worse for me. It'll help me push myself to make me a better player in the future."

The positive attitude Giles, a teammate of UNC signee Theo Pinson, exhibits is a combination of his work ethic, life experience and upbringing. His parents taught him to never take anything for granted, particularly his basketball skill.

One of his good friends, UNC women's basketball player Megan Buckland, suffered a third torn ACL earlier this year and will miss the remainder of her senior season.

"I've seen people get the big head and I've seen how it messed them up," he explained. "They had everything I had, but didn't work hard and it didn't work out for them. With my knee, I've seen it can be taken away from you that fast. So I'm even more humble than I was before. Just going through something like that changes how you think about stuff."

What it hasn't changed, however, is Giles's desire and passion for basketball. During Wesleyan's season-opening win over Freedom Christian, Giles called it "tough" to watch his teammates prepare for a game without him.

"I see what they mean when they say injuries are mostly mental," he said. "It kind of felt like someone was holding me back from doing something I love."

The love of basketball developed after Giles's father, Harry Giles Jr., signed him up for recreational league basketball in elementary school. It was an activity he gravitated towards and quickly knew he couldn't live without.

"It was just something about it," he said. "When I saw that people could play for a living, not the money or anything, but do something they love, I knew that's what I wanted to do."

Giles hasn't made a decision on whether or not he's going to play this season. The normal prognosis on his injury is anywhere from nine to 12 months. Nine months would put him back on the court in early March, only a week after the NCISAA state tournament.

If it's up to Wesleyan head coach Keith Gatlin, a return won't happen this year.

"I want him to take the whole year off, because he has nothing to prove," Gatlin said. "Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, everyone has offered him. Once he understands that this is his livelihood and that, God willing, he's got 20 more years of playing basketball, he'll take his time. It's not even about us; it's about him getting healthy."

During his time away, Giles has endured grueling early-morning workouts several times per week and significantly increased his strength-training regimen.

"I'm in the weight room more than I was," he said. "I'm more disciplined with lifting. I need to get stronger for the next level and so I don't get hurt again."

Regardless of whether or not he returns to his pre-injury form, many of the schools who covet Giles told him they'd honor his scholarship offer.

The injury has given Giles additional time to learn more about the schools he's interested in. Just this fall, he's attended season-opening events at both Kentucky and North Carolina, as well as a game at Duke.

Aside from those three schools, he also has offers from Georgetown, Kansas, Ohio State, Maryland, N.C. State, Florida and Wake Forest.

Two of the schools that have offered Giles – Kentucky and UNC – will meet in the Smith Center on Dec. 14. It's a game Giles doesn't plan on missing.

"I'll be at that game for sure," he said. "It's easy to get to and I can check both teams out. I can see their playing styles and see how they play against each other."

Giles plans to again play on the EYBL circuit -- which begins in April -- with the CP3 All-Stars.

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