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We finally got a glimpse of the real Harry Giles III, but will it last?

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BROOKLYN — In practice, it comes in spurts.

Behind closed doors, Harry Giles III, who was the best high school basketball player in his class before dealing with a pair of devastating knee injuries and a third surgery just this past September, show flashes of being the player that he was. But it isn’t consistent, and it hasn’t translating to gameday.

Giles, who one veteran scout told ESPN was the best prospect he’d ever seen as a freshman prior to his first torn ACL, has been anything but for the Blue Devils this season.

But on Friday night, as the Blue Devils squared off with arch-rival North Carolina in the semifinals of the ACC tournament, we all saw it. In a pivotal stretch during a nationally-televised game in the throes of March, Giles put together the three best possessions that he’s played to date. It started with a block, one of four that Giles had on the night, that turned into an alley-oop at the other end of the court after he sprinted to beat Tony Bradley down the floor. Back at the defensive end, Giles batted away an entry pass and dove on the floor to create a turnover, which led to a Duke bucket at the other end of the floor. On the very next possession, he grabbed a defensive rebound in the middle of UNC’s pair of dominant big men — Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks — and by the time it was all said and done, the Blue Devils had a 77-70 lead that UNC would never recover from.

The Blue Devils would go on to win 93-83 after trailing by 13 in the second half.

“One of the big reasons we won today is because of that incredible stretch he had,” Jayson Tatum. “It’s all effort. That’s what we needed today. I have the utmost faith in him that he’ll do that the rest of the way. ”

Tatum knows everything that Giles has been through. Not just this season, but since the injuries started. Tatum and Giles are best friends. They planned this season together at Duke. It’s not a mistake that they are on the same team in college, which means that Tatum knows better than just about anyone what Giles has dealt with in his short career. It also makes seeing Giles finally have his break-through just that much better.

“We have the utmost confidence him, especially I do,” Tatum said. “But I think for him it’s just believing in himself that he can do that. Mentally, it’s tough for him.”

“Confidence, mental things,” Giles said of why it’s taken him this long to come back around. “A lot of it is mental. My body is good.”

The Duke staff had just about given up on seeing this from Giles. They haven’t quit working with him, and they haven’t stopped hoping that the star is in there somewhere, but they had reached the point where they had just about accepted the fact that Giles was simply going to be a fill-in, a guy who are the minutes that Amile Jefferson couldn’t play, whether it be a result of fouls, fatigue or injury.

They weren’t expecting this, a performance that isn’t done justice by a stat-line of six points, seven boards and four blocks.

For Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, the issue wasn’t just Giles’ confidence. It was how he was playing.

“You’re the most enthusiastic kid I’ve ever been around, and you’re not bringing your enthusiasm,” Coach K said. “That was never hurt. But I think you’re not using it. Just be enthusiastic and see what happens, and I think he’s done that. Instead of being methodical and trying to think about everything, he’s been more athletic.”

Part of it was an adjustment to a new role, one where Giles is coming off the bench and playing 15 minutes instead of starting and starring. Grayson Allen has helped him with that.

“You might feel like a role player, but you’re not,” Allen recalled telling Giles. “You’re extremely talented, and when you get out there, act like it. Don’t be shy. Don’t be trying to play into a role. Do what you can do.”

“Put in 40 minutes of effort in 15 minutes,” Giles said.

How this turns out is unclear.

At the end of the day, Giles played just 15 minutes and was truly dominant for just three possessions in those 15 minutes.

Was this a change in the player or a blip on the radar?

The answer to that question may very well determine Duke’s ceiling.

“I hope,” Tatum said, “we haven’t reached our ceiling yet.”

NCAA denies extra-year request by NC State guard Henderson

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The NCAA has denied North Carolina State guard Terry Henderson’s request for another year of eligibility.

Henderson announced the decision Friday in a statement issued by the school.

The Raleigh native played two seasons at West Virginia before transferring to N.C. State and redshirting in 2014-15. He played for only 7 minutes of the following season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.

As a redshirt senior in 2016-17, he was the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.8 points per game and made a team-best 78 3-pointers.

Henderson called it “an honor and privilege” to play in his hometown.

SMU gets transfer in Georgetown’s Akoy Agau

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SMU pulled in a frontcourt player in Georgetown transfer Akoy Agau, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Agau is immediately eligible for next season as a graduate transfer.

The 6-foot-8 Agau started his career at Louisville before transferring to Georgetown after one season. Spending two seasons with the Hoyas, Agau was limited to 11 minutes in his first season due to injuries. He averaged 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season.

Coming out of high school, Agau was a four-star prospect but he’s never lived up to that billing in-part because of injuries. Now, Agau gets one more chance to make a difference as he’s hoping to help replace some departed pieces like Ben Moore and Semi Ojeleye.

South Carolina loses big man Sedee Keita to transfer

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South Carolina big man Sedee Keita will transfer from the program, he announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-9 Keita was once regarded as a top-100 national prospect in the Class of 2016, but he never found consistent minutes with the Gamecocks for last season’s Final Four team.

Keita appeared in 29 games and averaged 1.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game while shooting 27 percent from the field.

A native of Philadelphia, Keita will have to sit out next season before getting three more seasons of eligibility.

Although Keita failed to make an impact during his only season at South Carolina, he’ll be a coveted transfer thanks to his size and upside.

Mississippi State losing two to transfer

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Mississippi State will lose two players to transfer as freshmen Mario Kegler and Eli Wright are leaving the program.

Both Kegler and Wright were four-star prospects coming out of high school as they were apart of a six-man recruiting class that is supposed to be a major foundation for Ben Howland’s future with the Bulldogs.

The 6-foot-7 Kegler was Mississippi State’s third-leading scorer last season as he averaged 9.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Kegler should command some quality schools on the transfer market, especially since he’ll still have three more years of eligibility after sitting out next season due to NCAA transfer regulations. Kegler’s loss is also notable for Mississippi State because it is the second consecutive offseason that Howland lost a top-100, in-state product to transfer after only one season after Malik Newman left for Kansas.

Wright, a 6-foot-4 guard, was never able to find consistent minutes as he was already behind underclass perimeter options like Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters and Tyson Carter last season. With Nick Weatherspoon, Quinndary’s four-star brother, also joining the Bulldogs next season, the writing was likely on the wall that Wright wasn’t going to earn significant playing time.

 

N.C. State lands second transfer of day with Utah’s Devon Daniels

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A big recruiting day for N.C. State continued on Saturday afternoon as Utah transfer and guard Devon Daniels pledged to the Wolfpack.

Earlier in the day, N.C. State and new head coach Kevin Keatts landed another quality transfer in UNC Wilmington guard C.J. Bryce.

The 6-foot-5 Daniels just finished his freshman season with the Utes in which he put up 9.9 points 4.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 57 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point range. Just like Bryce, Daniels will have to sit out the 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer regulations before he has three more seasons of eligibility.

N.C. State now has two potential starters on the perimeter for the 2018-19 season with the addition of Bryce and Daniels as it will be interesting to see what kind of talent the Wolfpack can get around them.