A morning and evening session in Colorado Springs on Friday will go a long way in determining who will be selected on Saturday as the final 12 members of the USA Basketball U17 team who will play in the FIBA World Championships in Dubai in August.
Faces in the crowd
Friday’s sessions were well-attended by high-major college basketball head and assistant coaches, and a veritable who’s who of D-1 basketball’s most prominent members were in the house.
Several programs sent multiple coaches or full staffs, and head coaches present included, but were not limited to, Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Arizona, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Georgetown, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Villanova, Marquette, Connecticut, Texas, NC State, UNLV, UCLA, California, Wisconsin and many, many more.
Giles is on an upswing
It’s been a long recovery for 6′-9″ incoming junior Harry Giles of Wesleyan Christian Academy (NC). About a year ago, Giles was selected for USA Basketball’s U16 team and traveled to the FIBA Americas U16 tournament, participating in two games. Unfortunately, he suffered a horrific knee injury and required months of a rehabilitation process.
Giles gradually came back to the grassroots circuit after his recovery, and his performances in several events drew some mixed reviews by observers. At the time of his injury, Giles was regarded by some observers (including Hoopniks.com) as a contender for the title of the top high school prospect, regardless of class.
He’s not quite back to that status, nor does his current level of play dictate he should currently be ranked No. 1 in his class, but it’s fair to say Giles is on the upswing in re-acclimating to the hardwood. In stretches of scrimmage play, Giles demonstrated his versatility in scoring and utilizing his height to be a mismatch that were his pre-injury calling cards.
Still, there were times when it appeared that Giles’ mind and body weren’t on the same page, but he showed many flashes of why he’s considered by many to be a special prospect. The recovery period doesn’t look quite complete for Giles, but given his progress and age (he’s the second youngest player in camp) it’s reasonable to assume he’ll revisit his lofty status, albeit on his own time table.
T.J. Leaf, 6′-9″, 200, 2016, Foothills Christian (CA) – After sitting out of Thursday’s camp session, Leaf excelled on Friday. Leaf is as skilled as any big man nationally in the 2016 class, as he is a good passer, shooter and scorer. Leaf showed a well-rounded offensive game in scrimmage action and actually looked as if he’s closer to 6′-10,” making him a valued face up big man prospect with significant size in the ’16 class. It’s fairly clear that Leaf is no less than a top-20 player in his class at present, with the potential to rise higher based on his development of strength and a post repertoire.
Daniel Giddens, 6′-10″, 225, 2015, Oak Hill Academy (VA) – Playing in front of his future head coach at Ohio State, Giddens continued his strong play from Thursday on Friday. Giddens is easily the best defensive big man in camp, and used impeccable timing to reject and alter more than his fair share of shots from opponents. Giddens did have some success in scoring a few buckets, but his trademark was possessing the paint as his own, which he did to a high degree. Also, Giddens cleaned the glass on both ends of the floor, which will be a great asset to bring to the Buckeyes’ roster.
V.J. King, 6′-6″, 175, 2016, Paul VI (VA) – A recent transfer from St. Vincent-St. Mary (OH) to Paul VI, King was among the most consistent shooters in Friday’s action. While athletic play from fellow ’16 wings Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum was often eye catching, King’s all-around game on Friday was on point throughout both sessions, making him a fair bet to make the cut to 12 players, like last year. King’s smooth and effective, getting the job done with minimal fanfare in producing.
Derryck Thornton, 6′-2″, 160, Findlay Prep (NV) – As mentioned in Thursday’s camp report, Malik Newman was nearly unguardable, event against the substantial competition present at training camp. On Friday, Thornton did an admirable job in containing Newman, which was impressive. Thornton also showed a high IQ floor game, solid defensive instincts, and a fairly deadly outside shot. The lithe general on the floor has good handles and vision, and delivered the ball where it needed to go. Simply put, Thornton put together a strong offensive-defensive performance on Friday.
Amir Coffey, 6′-6″, 150, 2016, Hopkins (MN) – While his consistency level isn’t quite there yet, Coffey played really well in stretches and spurts. When his 3-point shot is on, he uses it to access other aspects of his game. Coffey is long and lanky for a guard, and has quite a versatile game. Not an overwhelming athlete, Coffey does little things well and looks to develop into a dangerous all-around player with a size mismatch over other guards.
For those fans that wish college basketball was a year-round sport, the College Basketball Newcomers Guide paperback and Kindle book previews the incoming recruits for every team nationally. There’s no need to wait until Fall to learn about the new names in college basketball that will be starring on the hardwood.