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Harry Giles hopes to prove his once can’t-miss status will be rediscovered in NBA

Duke forward/center Harry Giles is ready to prove he's healthy

Giles had his first pre-draft workout Tuesday with the Kings. He admits being a bit nervous but felt good about his individual workout. It’s the first of at least five Giles said he has planned, with the next one in Portland.
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Giles had his first pre-draft workout Tuesday with the Kings. He admits being a bit nervous but felt good about his individual workout. It’s the first of at least five Giles said he has planned, with the next one in Portland.

There weren’t supposed to be so many questions about Harry Giles going through the NBA draft process.

He was supposed to be one of the draft’s can’t-miss prospects just two years ago. But he tore the ACL in each knee while in high school, the second coming as a senior, and had a rather forgettable one-season stint at Duke, averaging just 3.9 points and 3.8 rebounds in 11.5 minutes.

Not exactly the kind of numbers from a sure-fire NBA player, but before he tore his right ACL in November 2015 (he’d already recovered from tearing his left ACL), Giles was one of the best high school players in the country, ranked No. 1 by many recruiting services.

Now he’s a player that’s seen as a risk, no longer talked about among the elite prospects like Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, De’Aaron Fox or his college teammate, Jayson Tatum.

Giles had his first pre-draft workout Tuesday with the Kings. He admits being a bit nervous but felt good about his individual workout. It’s the first of at least five Giles said he has planned, with the next one in Portland.

Could the Kings use a skilled player like Giles? Sure, but they also have spent the last two years drafting big men so another big might not be a priority. But when you’re a rebuilding team with no proven star, it’s hard not to take a look at a player like Giles, who could be drafted later and prove to be a bargain in the future if he can live up to his immense promise.

The 6-foot-11, 222-pound forward/center hopes to show teams the promise that made him one of the best prep players around has not dissipated due to the injuries.

“It’s tough because, personally, you want to do good,” Giles said. “It’s one of those things you kind of dream of and you work hard for it. But I still work hard for this moment. Regardless if I go one, 60, wherever, you can still make a living, a career.”

If Giles is healthy, he has NBA talent. His ability to run the floor, move laterally and athleticism are things teams covet in players his size.

Giles said he’s feeling stronger and more like that player lately.

“You have certain days, certain workouts where you might do things in the workout where you’re like, ‘I’m feeling good again,’ ” Giles said. “Really the last month I’ve been feeling like that. Each day I’m getting more and more back to myself and I still have a long way to go. It’s kind of a scary thing. I’m excited to see how good I can get.”

Giles never could show his potential at Duke. The first season after a knee injury is always tough and Giles was coming back while also adjusting to playing for one of the nation’s best college programs.

So while Tatum became a projected top-five pick, Giles was trying to prove he could be the player he was once projected to be.

Giles said there was some thought of staying at Duke another season to put together a better season, but he believes his best chance to improve as a player is as a pro.

“For me, it didn’t go as planned. It wasn’t as good as I thought it should have went or wanted it to go,” Giles said. “But at the same time you can’t worry about that. You can’t rewrite a certain journey that happened. So for me it was just about accepting what happened and moving on from it and using it as motivation going forward.”

Giles is still projected as a first-round pick by some prognosticators. He also understands with his recent injury history and underwhelming season at Duke, there will be questions.

However, he’s learned patience while recovering from injuries.

“Anything is possible from any spot,” Giles said. “For me it’s just very motivating. A lot of people who went through what I went through still might not be here so for me to be here is a blessing. I’m happy.”

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

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