Coach Speak: Harry Giles

HIGH POINT, N.C. – Simply put, Harry Giles is a phenomenon.

He’s the highest rated North Carolina player since John Wall.

His 6-10 size, coupled with guard-like skills and an unquantifiable ferocity make him a matchup nightmare.

And his recruitment, while also having the potential to alter college basketball’s landscape, invokes memories of some of the bigger recruiting battles in the state’s history.

Inside Carolina traveled to High Point (N.C.) Wesleyan Christian Academy to get a better understanding of Giles as a person, player and leader. This week, stay tuned for interviews with Giles and his teammates. Today, Wesleyan head coach Keith Gatlin, a North Carolina native who played at Maryland, discusses his star player.

With the graduation of JaQuel Richmond, Donovan Gilmore and Theo Pinson has Harry earned the right to lead your team?
He’s earned that right and not because of his basketball talent, but because of 5:30 a.m. rehabbing his knee, studying before he goes to Dubai (for the USA U17 World Championships). I told him, I said, 'Stuff like that is how you become a captain. You have to do things when the lights aren’t on and people aren’t in the stands.'

He came in as a 14-year-old freshman with other more experienced guys who went on to play Division I basketball. Harry was, arguably, as a freshman my best player besides Theo. But he took a step back because he was a baby coming from middle school. He took a step back and watched, studied and learned. When those guys were exiting out, I think he knew it was his turn to lead.

What’s his leadership style?
He leads more by example than anything. Theo was more energetic and doing stuff all the time. I’d say it’s somewhat similar, but a little bit different.

How has he integrated back into your team after spending the summer playing in AAU and with Team USA?
It’s been a smooth transition. He’s a willing passer and he really thinks pass first. When your best player thinks pass and wants to get other people off, that’s great. It hasn’t been a slow process adding guys like Kwe Parker. We’re 5-0 now, but I don’t think we’ve played our best basketball yet.

How do you manage a high school team with four or five Division I caliber players?
Harry welcomes it, because you’re going to see the same thing in college. For me, it’s managing everyone and getting them to buy into, 'you can be very good on this level, but be an average player that fits as a piece at the next level.' I tell kids, 'You might be good but you have to come together as a team at the next level. If you win, everything will take care of itself.'

"Harry can fit any system, anywhere."

Is Harry the type of player that craves being “the man” or can he go to the next level and be just be a piece?
Harry can fit any system, anywhere. That doesn’t affect him, because he can impact the game in so many ways. He can shoot it, rebound it, pass it, handle it, he can do so many things. The days of being the man in high school and that translating into college, there’s only three or four guys that can do that now. Those days are over.

When I came out, you were getting a lot of points. Now, colleges are looking for a piece and kids are leaving so fast and going to the pros. There’s only a select few that will be the man when they get to college. Harry’s game will determine if he’s the man, because he’s that good. But Harry doesn’t strive for that, it comes natural because of how he plays.

You played with Len Bias, against Michael Jordan, and have been around the game for more than 40 years. How good can Giles be? What’s his ceiling?
Unlimited, for the simple fact that he’s 6-10 and has guard skills. You can find a 6-5, 6-6 guy that can do a lot of things. But when you have a 6-10 kid, that wears a size 17 shoe, that has huge hands and is graceful like a guard, that’s very unique and that’s special. Most big guys have trouble shooting free throws and shooting the ball because their hands are so big. He grabs the ball like it’s a grapefruit and still has a nice, soft touch. That’s what makes him so intriguing to colleges and the NBA, he can do the same thing your point guard can do.

Of all the player comparisons you hear for Harry, which one do you think is the best?
I think he’s his own particular player, he’s so unique. Some people try to say Kevin Durant, some Kevin Garnett, I think he’s just a unique player for his particular time. I don’t see a lot of that stuff with him because Kevin Durant is a skilled guard at 6-11. Harry is a skilled post guy that’s aggressive on the block, that will tear your head off and then take you outside. He’s a matchup nightmare. I’ve never seen anything like him in my life, to be honest.

"I’ve never seen anything like him in my life."

My era in basketball was really good. Lenny (Bias) was 6-8, aggressive and he could shoot it like a guard. I think Harry is somewhat similar because if you put a big guy on him, he can take him outside and use his skill set. If you put a little guy on him, he’ll take him down low and punish him. I don’t think you can really pencil him in and say ‘this guy can stop him’ because he can impact the game in so many ways.

What’s your advice for him on picking a college?
I tell him to just take your time, like I told Theo. I have no skin in the game, because I’ve been there and done that. I think the kids respect that from me because I’ve never tried to tell them where to go. Maryland was great for me, it might not be good for this particular kid. If they ask me for advice, I give it to them. I think that’s been the best thing for our program. I have a guy at Florida State, a guy at Carolina, a guy at Middle Tennessee State, wherever. You have to find the fit for you.

As bad as this sounds, Harry’s making a business decision. He can go to GTCC (Guilford Technical Community College) and the hype is still going to be there. His decision is still a business decision because of what he can be, as opposed to another high school player trying to find a fit for his skills. Harry is like the CEO of his brand and it’s a business decision. That’s where basketball has gotten to now, it’s really a business decision.

Harry Giles Profile

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