Harry Giles is the best basketball player in the nation for the class of 2016.
He’s received numerous awards and recognitions and he’s projected by many to be a top-five draft pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
However, before all of that, he was a native of Winston-Salem.
Harry made his choice to go to Duke for whatever reason, but he turned his back on his city, which, in my opinion, is the greatest sin you can commit in sports.
Take Lebron, for example. He left Cleveland in somewhat of a hurried fashion to run off to something more “glamorous” for a great team that also had a great supporting cast of Dwanye Wade and Chris Bosh around him. Harry Giles did the same thing.
He went to a school with a better track record for winning and a better team around him consisting of Jayson Tatum and Grayson Allen.
Honestly you can’t blame him for picking Duke. It’s an attractive program led by Coach K, but it’s Duke, Wake Forest’s biggest rival (yes, Duke is and always will be Wake Forest’s greatest rival). As much as it kills me to say it, Harry Giles will be spectacular during his one year (hopefully) at Duke as he prepares for NBA stardom.
While I know you can’t get mad at a 17- year-old for making his decision, Harry did what no other Winston-Salem high school basketball great has ever done by not going to Wake Forest.
Let’s take Chris Paul, Josh Howard and C.J. Harris, for example. They’re all natives of Winston-Salem who played high school ball in town and ultimately led Wake Forest to great things. Harry just didn’t follow the norm.
However, kudos to him for being different. Wake Forest basketball success is that much sweeter when a hometown kid leads the Deacs into national contention, simply because of the fact that they’re a local.
The thing that gets me with Harry’s decision is that he knows what committing to Wake Forest could have done for this city. Winston-Salem is one of the most poverty-stricken cities in the nation with more than 15 percent of residents living below the poverty line. As a native of Winston-Salem myself, I’ve watched the city come alive while witnessing the great play of CP3 or C.J. Harris ultimately lead the Deacs into national contention; it’s truly a remarkable thing. Harry could have given those people something to be excited about, something to look forward to like Chris Paul and his sensational play did during the glory days of Tie Dye Nation.
Harry knows it would have been a challenge to lead this Wake Forest team deep into the tournament. He knows it would have been an uphill battle, but he chose not to take it. He let his hometown down. Isn’t it often said that challenges bring out the best in us as individuals? I don’t want to call Harry a coward, but he simply just couldn’t stand up to the challenge that is making Wake Forest relevant again in basketball. He took the easy road out. All I want to ask him is what happened to that little boy who loved Wake Forest so much while growing up. I simply want my peers to be able to witness great Wake Forest basketball during our four years together like I got to witness my entire childhood.
I know for a fact that Wake Forest basketball will be back to where it rightfully belongs very soon, but this still hurts. Giles turned his back on his city and that is something that will take me a long time to forgive. Giles broke my heart and while he will always be a native of Winston-Salem, he will never be, and never was a Demon Deacon. And I’m grateful for that, because we deserve better.
While nothing in life is guaranteed, I guarantee that come January or February of 2017, the Joel will be electric and as alive as ever, and boos will erupt when Giles steps onto that court that he once called home.