Duke Basketball: Harry Giles finally starting to turn hype into happenings

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

Anyone who witnessed Harry Giles when he was a high school freshman isn’t likely surprised by the preseason highlights and stat lines that the former Duke basketball player has been putting up for the Sacramento Kings.

When Harry Giles was a college freshman in Durham, Duke basketball fans kept waiting for him to turn Cameron Indoor Stadium into his personal bounce house. Unfortunately, knee surgeries in 2013, 2015, and 2016 had taken their toll on the spring in the step of the 6-foot-10, 240-pound forward.

As a result, Giles was never able to offer the 2016-17 Blue Devils the one weapon in his arsenal that most contributed to his name appearing at the top of so many recruiting experts’ rankings of the 2016 high school class.

His so-called “quick hops” just weren’t as quick as advertised. And the actual hops just weren’t as high.

More from Ball Durham

Fast-forward to this week, though, and it’s easy to see why the Sacramento Kings are so enthusiastic about the guy they may have stolen with the 20th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft (the franchise erred on the side of caution by not playing Giles at all last season).

In each of the Kings’ first two preseason games so far, Giles put up more points (14 in each) than he ever scored in a game in which he was wearing a Duke jersey (he only scored in double figures twice as a Blue Devil; his high was 12 at home against Boston College on Jan. 7, 2017).

During the Kings’ 106-102 win on the road against the Phoenix Suns on Monday, Giles also added six boards and three assists across 23 minutes of action. And he illustrated his consistency by grabbing another seven rebounds and dishing out three more assists during his 24 minutes on the court during his squad’s 128-123 road loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.

But it’s not just his numbers that have the rest of the league on high alert. It’s the heights and speeds that he reaches on so many plays that have led to his appearance on several highlight clips. Check out his top plays — including some nifty passes and soft shots — from the game against the Lakers:

Although two other former Duke basketball studs may have stolen the headlines from Giles during the Lakers-Kings game on Thursday night — Sacramento rookie forward Marvin Bagley III had 19 points and 10 rebounds while Los Angeles third-year guard Brandon Ingram had a game-high 31 points — it is the Winston Salem, N.C., native who is in the beginnings of a comeback story that appears to be on its way to having a happy ending.

Top five small forwards of the Coach K era. dark. Next

And while Duke fans should be happy to follow his story, no one would blame them if they also felt jealous of Sacramento fans for getting to reap the rewards from having a fully healthy Giles on their team.