The Moody opener between SMU and UConn was a who's-who of the hoops recruiting world, from the top-big man in the 2015 class to a number of talented teammates from Plano West, one of the best high school programs in the state.
One of these Plano West players was Chris Giles, who is expected to be one of, if not, the top combo guard in the Class of 2017.
Giles and his father, Chris Sr., sat behind the SMU bench for the UConn game after having third row seats for the season opener against TCU at the American Airlines Center. The Giles family was very impressed with what they saw at the Moody opener.
"The game was exciting. One word to sum it up was exciting," Chris Sr. said. "SMU is on its way to being a successful program. They have great coaching, great players, they have a great crowd and a great arena. And on Saturday, I witnessed all of that and it was exciting just to be a part of that, just to see the people in the stands excited about the new arena and then the chants for Larry Brown. It was the total package, a big win against a ranked team. I don't think it could've been scripted any better."
Chris also mentioned how excited his son was to share his own special day with the Mustangs.
"Chris kept saying how impressed he was. Saturday was actually Chris' 15th birthday," Chris Sr. said. "Coach Ulric (Maligi) came out and Coach K.T. (Turner) and wished him a happy birthday. He was just excited, one, it being his birthday and, two, being in the new arena and it being sold out and just how engaged the crowd was. Going to SMU games in the past, you don't remember it being anything like that. It's more than being sold out, it's being engaged, and they were throughout the whole game."
Even though they were ‘whipping around everywhere' on the day of the game for Giles's birthday, he and his father took the time to soak in the arena before the action started.
"We made sure to arrive early. We arrived probably about an hour before the game so we could around the arena and just soak it all up," Chris Sr. said. "We didn't want to get there right before tip-off and then be engaged in the game. We wanted to go early, walk around, got a Campisi's pizza, just took in the whole atmosphere."
Since they are locals, Giles and his dad have taken a few unofficial visits to SMU, including attending the practice when Allen Iverson addressed the team. The father-son duo were equally impressed seeing Dikembe Mutumbo and other professional figures at the UConn game.
"That success goes to Larry Brown and his coaching staff, Coach Ulric and Coach K.T. and those guys, because they're creating an environment at SMU where basketball is the focus," Chris Sr. said. "And if that's the case, then more people, present and future, are going to want to come around. And why wouldn't you? I also saw Mike Woodson of the New York Knicks and got to shake his hand."
Chris Sr. can see a lot of other advantages for his son if chose to play for SMU.
"First of all, it would be an honor to play for a Hall of Fame coach. I mean, how many people can say that there son has played or is playing for a Hall of Fame coach?" Chris said. "That would be one very positive thing. The second thing would be he'd get to stay home.
"Back in the day, you didn't have many options for staying home and being part of a winning program and a winning tradition and that's what SMU is trying to create. So it just opened up another option for guys in the area so you don't have to look for teams out of state or you don't have to look at just one team, Texas and that's it. So that's what SMU is creating is another option. (Emmanuel) Mudiay chose that option, and that's all contributed to Larry Brown, Coach Ulric and the staff. They're making college basketball available for guys in the area."
A coach himself, Chris Sr. was impressed with Brown's in-game composure and control as he watched from behind the SMU bench at the game.
"From what I noticed, he's always in control. Some other coaches, for spurts throughout the game they will lose control and what have you, but Larry Brown was in constant control as far as game management and also his huddle," Chris Sr. said. "He knew what to say at the right time. He never looked lost; he was never searching for the next move. He knew what to do next and was in constant control."
Though he is still a freshman, Giles, who holds early offers from Ohio State and SMU, continues to add schools an impressive list of interested programs such as Oklahoma, Arizona, Houston, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Baylor, Northwestern, and Creighton.
"Creighton has been real hot. They haven't actually offered but there has been high interest from Creighton," Chris Sr. said. "I'm also hearing from University of Arkansas, they have high interest as well. We get phone calls from them all the time.
"SMU is right up there. Coach Ulric does a phenomenal job as far as his recruiting. His recruiting, he makes it real personable. There's some business involved but you can see that he's genuine in his recruitment. I'd grade SMU high. It's hard not to when you have a Hall of Fame coach, a new arena, and they've putting all this effort into making it successful. It's hard to ignore that."
As far as Giles's freshman season is concerned, Chris Sr. is happy with the progress his son and his teammates have made together.
"Obviously, we knew his freshman year on varsity was going to be more of a transitioning year, but I can say with the season about halfway through and we're about to start district play, he's a lot more comfortable out on the floor now," Chris Sr. said. "His teammates trust him more now. He's the only freshman on a team of juniors and seniors. So initially they're looking at him as just the young kid but now with us being about halfway through, they trust him now and his comfort level is really high playing with those guys. He's right on pace.
"He's definitely still working on his three-point shooting. He's made tremendous strides in his shooting range."
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