The two were teammates on the U16 team that won gold in the FIBA Americas, but Giles had his tournament cut short when he suffered a torn ACL in just the second game.
The 6-7 Tatum was clearly the best player on the floor at the start of the training camp and showed why he is considered the No. 1 player in the class of 2016. The St. Louis native did it all on the offensive end, hitting floaters, fade-aways, and threes to go along with a few right dunks in traffic.
While Tatum stole the show during the first session, Giles made the biggest impression throughout the second day in front of wall-to-wall college coaches. Standing at 6-9 with a 7-2 wing span, Giles threw down a few aggressive dunks in traffic. He scored on the inside, but also knocked down jump shots off the dribble and threes from the top of the key.
After making his return to the court in May, Giles started to show signs of returning to the player who was previously rated No. 1 in his class.
“My knee is good, it’s a little sore, but you know everybody is tired, so it’s not really hurting it’s just all the running and pounding, so once I put some ice on it I’ll be good,” said Giles. “Day by day, I’m getting stronger. I think I’m at about 90 percent right now.”
The duo spent their post-practice moments wrapping their knees in ice to combat the daily grind.
“It’s been tough on our bodies and we are real sore, but we are just trying to compete and make this team,” said Tatum
“Same thing, that’s what I was about to say” echoed Giles. “I was a bit nervous, but you gotta play at the same time and let your game do the talking. That’s the memo out here. Compete. Everybody is good out here so you just have to go at everybody. You know, that’s what the coaches want to see. Everybody go at each other and see who the best is. Everybody is good here, so you just have to compete.”
Both Tatum and Giles were paired up numerous times during the scrimmage session and when they weren’t playing one-on-one during breaks they were waiting until they had both finished interviews in order to leave the gym together.
While Tatum plays his high school ball in Missouri and Giles in North Carolina, the two have many of the same colleges recruiting them. For that matter, the two Top 5 talents will have their pick of nearly any school in the country.
“Yeah, we talk about it a little bit,” said Tatum. “You know we don’t get into too much detail right now. First we are worried about making this team; I mean we might talk about it a little bit when we get a break. We’ll talk about it in the room a little bit.”
“Yeah, we’ll start talking about it more after the season when school is about to start back up and we have time to think about it,” noted Giles.
Giles is getting recruited heavily by both Duke and North Carolina and watched each team play in-person last year.
“They are both great schools, the atmosphere is crazy in both gyms,” said Giles. “Especially when it’s the right game, you know I’m cool with both coaching staffs. I love them, all of ‘em are great, good guys. So it’s gonna be a tough decision in the end, not just for those two but everybody recruiting me. All the coaching staffs are good and have your best interests at heart.”
Tatum, on the other hand, has not visited either ACC school. “I really want to get out to the East Coast soon and see some of the schools that are recruiting me,” said Tatum. “Hopefully soon.”
Both players noticed Roy Williams in the bleachers on Friday and they also both noticed him at their games during the Peach Jam.
“It’s cool, tight,” noted Giles about his relationship with Williams. “They just want me to play and be dominant and a really good player.
“It’s real good,” said Tatum in regards to his relationship with Williams. “Just keeping in contact weekly, talking to him on the phone and things like that. They would love to have the opportunity to coach me and that they feel we would be great going there together and could do special things.”
The duo will continue to play together in the coming weeks, as they both made the final cut for the 12-man U17 National Team. After more practices at the USA complex in Colorado Springs, the team will train next week in Qatar before beginning 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship in Dubai on Aug. 8.