Duke

Duke’s Harry Giles heading to NBA

Duke's Harry Giles (1) slams in two during the first half of Duke's game against Notre Dame in the finals of the New York Life ACC Tournament at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., on March 11, 2017.
Duke's Harry Giles (1) slams in two during the first half of Duke's game against Notre Dame in the finals of the New York Life ACC Tournament at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., on March 11, 2017. ehyman@newsobserver.com

As expected, Harry Giles is heading to the NBA after one season in a Duke uniform.

The 6-10 freshman center from Winston-Salem announced his plans to declare for the NBA draft on Tuesday.

“With his uplifting personality and love for the game, Harry Giles has been a joy to coach,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement. “He is only beginning to scratch the surface of how good he can be on the basketball court. Harry has an exciting NBA future ahead of him and we are here to fully support him as a member of our brotherhood.”

Giles suffered torn ACLs in both knees during his high school career, when he was considered the nation’s top players. Upon enrolling at Duke he required arthroscopic surgery to his left knee last October. That delayed his college debut until the middle of December.

Giles played in 26 games, averaging just 3.9 points and 3.8 rebounds while playing an average of 11.5 minutes per game. Still, he is projected to be a first-round pick in this June’s NBA draft. Draftexpress.com, in its latest mock draft, has Giles going with the No. 24 overall pick.

“Playing in the NBA has been my goal for as long as I can remember, and I’m so excited to take the next step in that journey,” Giles said in a statement. “My time at Duke has been a dream come true. I’ve built so many strong relationships here and I have so many people to thank, from my teammates and coaches to our medical staff and strength coach. I can’t understate how proud I am to be part of the Duke Basketball program forever.”

As the season progressed, Krzyzewski and Duke associate head coach Jeff Capel both said it became apparent that Giles wouldn’t elevate his play to its full potential while at Duke. Giles did show flashes of his greatness, though, while helping Duke win the ACC tournament.

Playing 15 minutes in Duke’s 93-83 win over North Carolina in the ACC tournament, Giles scored six points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked four shots.

“Harry Giles came in and played some of the best basketball I’ve seen all year,” Duke senior forward Amile Jefferson said that night.

Giles is the second Duke freshman to declare for the NBA this postseason. Jayson Tatum, a 6-8 forward, announced his decision to enter the draft last week. Tatum and Giles arrived at Duke planning to be one-and-done players.

The Blue Devils are also losing two reserves who are transferring. Chase Jeter announced his plans to leave last Thursday while Sean Obi said Tuesday he’ll continue his career elsewhere after graduating in May.

Steve Wiseman: 919-419-6671, @stevewisemanNC

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