Top 2016 prospect tears ACL again; should he consider skipping college?

4 Comments

The top prospect in the Class of 2016 and the odds-on favorite to be the first pick in the 2017 draft suffered the second serious knee injury of his high school career this week.

Harry Giles, a 6-foot-10 center that has drawn comparisons to Chris Webber, partially tore the ACL in his right knee in the first two minutes of his first game of his senior season. That would be a brutal blow for any player of that ability, but it’s particularly tough for Giles to swallow.

During the summer between his freshman and sophomore seasons, Giles shredded his left knee, tearing the ACL, the MCL and the meniscus. It was a long road to recovery, but he played his junior season in high school and, this past summer, looked like he had finally put it all together. He was dominant.

But he’ll now also be the proud owner of two surgically-repaired knees, having sat out two of his last three seasons in high school.

Giles is down to four schools: Duke, Kentucky, Kansas and Wake Forest. The Winston-Salem native was scheduled to announce his decision next week, but after suffering the injury, there are rumblings that he’ll end up announcing his decision tomorrow.

Giles is a one-and-done guy through and through. He’s the best prospect in a class that many believe is better than the Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker-led Class of 2013. He’s not going to be long for a college campus.

The question that has to be asked now, however, is whether or not he should actually play basketball during that one season in college.

Here’s the deal: Giles is an incredible talent, an athlete that has a future that could be worth millions and millions of dollars. But that money isn’t guaranteed, at least not until he signs a contract as a rookie, and the real money — that multi-generational, buy-me-a-yacht kind of wealth — doesn’t come until that second contract.

That one year in college really does nothing to change that. Yes, it’s a sensational tool for marketing, a way to prove to how good he is and to start generating the kind of fan appeal that will lead to shoe deals and lucrative sponsorships. But how much does it really do for his long-term value? Whether he plays as a freshman or sits out and spends the year working out on his own, on an agent’s time, he’s going to get pick in the first round. He’s probably going to get picked in the top half of the lottery. And once he gets to the NBA, he can start proving to people just how good he is, when he’s being financially compensated for playing.

That argument really does make a lot of sense, especially with a player that has two surgically repaired knees.

But on the other hand, if he does sit out his one-and-done year, it will mean that he’s being drafted after not playing for two full years and sitting out three of the last four seasons. For an 18 or 19 year old kid, a player in prime development years, that is an eternity.

Harry Giles (Getty Images)
Harry Giles (Getty Images)

And here’s the part no one will mention: Whether he’s playing in college or working out on his own, he’s going to be putting his knees at risk. He’s probably more likely to reinjure one of those repaired ACLs playing in a game or scrimmaging in practice, but it’s just as likely that is pops when he plants doing an agility drill or working on his pull-up jumper.

College would also provide him with medical care and some of the best rehab in athletics. For free. If he has the grades to do it, Giles should really consider enrolling in college for the spring semester this year. That would be the majority of his rehab would be done at the college level as opposed to Oak Hill Academy. That would, inarguably, be better for him from an athletic standpoint, and he might has well start taking advantage of that scholarship as soon as possible.

It’s not like he needs to worry about starting his eligibility clock a year early.

The good news is that Giles has plenty of tie to mull the decision, because it’s not going to be an easy one to make. At the very least, skipping college basketball altogether is an option he truly needs to consider, but in the end, my guess is that Giles does go to college and that he does play in college.

Maybe he sits out some of the early, inconsequential games to ensure he’s back to 100 percent. At some point, he’s going to have to prove that he’s healthy, and while he’ll be putting his future at risk, it’s worthwhile to ask whether that risk is worth the potential damage he could do to his development by sitting out another season.

Tennessee center Tamari Key out for season with blood clots

Saul Young/News Sentinel/USA TODAY NETWORK
2 Comments

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee senior center Tamari Key will miss the rest of this season because of blood clots in her lungs, coach Kellie Harper said.

Doctors found the issue during testing. Key is expected to make a full recovery after treatment from University of Tennessee doctors, Harper said, adding that her sole concern is Key getting the medical care she needs to heal and return to full strength.

Key missed the first game of her career in a win Tuesday night over Chattanooga after playing her first 99.

“This is much bigger than basketball. We are so grateful that this medical condition was caught,” Harper said in a statement. “Our entire program will be right beside Tamari during this process and welcomes prayers and positive thoughts from Lady Vol Nation and beyond.”

The Lady Vols opened the season ranked fifth but currently are 5-5.

The 6-foot-6 Key from Cary, North Carolina, currently is Tennessee’s third-leading scorer averaging 8.4 points a game and averaged 4.2 rebounds per game. She started all 34 games as the Lady Vols reached their first Sweet 16 since 2016 last season and set the school record with 119 blocked shots.

Key had 18 blocks this season and 295 for her career, five away from becoming the eighth woman to reach that mark in Southeastern Conference history.

No. 7 Tennessee beats Eastern Kentucky, win streak hits 7

tennessee basketball
Saul Young/USA TODAY NETWORK
1 Comment

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tyreke Key scored 10 of the first 12 points of the second half and finished with 17, and No. 7 Tennessee overcame a sluggish first half and beat Eastern Kentucky 84-49 on Wednesday night.

“Tyreke is handling the ball now,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “That’s all new to him. He keeps getting better.”

The Volunteers (8-1) struggled in the first half but still built an 11-point lead over Eastern Kentucky (4-5) on the way to their seventh straight victory.

Key led Tennessee in scoring before leaving with a cramp in his right leg with 6:15 left in the game. Julian Phillips had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Zakai Zeigler and Uros Plavsic added 13 points apiece. Olivier Nkamhoua scored 10.

“I’m still settling in,” said Key, a transfer from Indiana State who didn’t play last year while recovering from an injury. “This is a new role. I’m taking steps every day and keep learning.”

Eastern Kentucky, which came into the game averaging 83.5 points, was held well below that total due to 17% (6 for 35) shooting from long range and 22% (15 for 68) overall. Leland Walker led the Colonels with 13 points.

It was the seventh time this season Tennessee has held its opponent to 50 or fewer points.

“(Tennessee) is the best defensive team in the country,” Eastern Kentucky coach A.W. Hamilton said. “I think they’re the best team in the country.”

At one point in the first half, Tennessee was shooting 20% and still leading by 10 points. The teams combined to shoot 4 of 32 from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes. The Vols, who shot 24% (8 of 34), led 32-21 at the break.

“If we can’t make shots, can you find a way to win the game?” Barnes said. “When the shot’s not going in, find a way to play. The first thing we talk about is our defense.”

Tennessee shot 41 free throws. Phillips, a true freshman, was 7 of 10.

“(Phillips) has learned the pace of the game,” Barnes said. “I’m not sure there’s been a more effective freshman in the country (this season).”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Since its early season slip against Colorado, Tennessee has had a steady ascent in the rankings. The Vols’ next two games – neutral site (Brooklyn) against No, 13 Maryland (Dec. 11) and at No. 10 Arizona (Dec. 17) – will go a long way toward justifying the No. 7 ranking.

BIG PICTURE

Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels’ run-and-gun style of offense had them averaging 83.5 points through their first eight games. They ran into a defensive buzz saw in Tennessee, which was yielding just over 51 points.

Tennessee: Santiago Vescovi sat out his second straight game with a shoulder problem. He is expected to be ready to play Sunday against Maryland. . The Vols have won seven in a row since their loss to Colorado.

UP NEXT

Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels host Boyce College on Saturday.

Tennessee: Take on No. 13 Maryland on Sunday at the Hall of Fame Invitational in New York.

Hoggard scores career-high 23, Michigan State snaps 2-game skid

michigan state basketball
Matthew OHaren/USA TODAY Sports
3 Comments

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A.J. Hoggard scored a career-high 23 points, Joey Hauser had 12 points and 15 rebounds and Michigan State beat Penn State 67-58 on Wednesday night to snap a two-game losing streak.

Michigan State (6-4, 1-1 Big Ten) avoided going .500 or worse after 10 games for the first time in 18 seasons.

Hoggard blocked an open layup with less than a minute to play and Hauser grabbed the rebound before being fouled and making two free throws at the other end for a 66-58 lead.

Hoggard, Hauser and Tyson Walker combined for 31 of Michigan State’s 32 second-half points.

The Michigan State defense allowed only one made field goal in the final five minutes. Penn State was just 1 of 9 from 3-point range in the second half after 7 of 18 before halftime.

Walker scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half for Michigan State. Hoggard, who entered third in the conference in assists at 6.3, had six rebounds, two assists and one key block.

Hoggard gave Michigan State 35-33 lead – its first since 4-2 – after back-to-back three-point plays with 59.3 seconds left in the first half. It was tied at 35-all at the break.

Seth Lundy scored 16 points and Jalen Pickett had 13 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists for Penn State (6-3, 0-1)

Michigan State hosts Brown on Saturday. Penn State, which hadn’t played since a double-overtime loss to Clemson on Nov. 29, plays at No. 17 Illinois on Saturday.

No. 7 Virginia Tech posts 9th straight win, beats Boston College 73-58

virginia tech basketball
Erica Denhoff/Getty Images
2 Comments

BOSTON — Reigning Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year Elizabeth Kitley had 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Cayla King scored 16 on Wednesday night to lead No. 7 Virginia Tech to a 73-58 victory over Boston College, the Hokies’ ninth straight win.

Taylor Soule, one of two BC transfers on the roster for Virginia Tech (9-0, 1-0 ACC), added nine points and five rebounds. Soule scored more than 1,500 points and grabbed almost 700 rebounds in four seasons at BC, earning All-ACC honors three times.

Andrea Daley scored 15 points and Maria Gakdeng scored 14 for BC (7-4, 0-1). They each grabbed six rebounds.

Virginia Tech scored 17 of the game’s first 21 points and led by as many as 19 in the third quarter before BC cut the deficit to 10 in the fourth. Leading 64-54 with under three minutes left and the shot clock expiring, Kayana Traylor hit a 3-pointer for the Hokies.

Gakdeng missed two free throws for BC, and then Kitley scored from inside to make it a 15-point game.

Clara Ford, who also played four years in Chestnut Hill, pitched in 2 points in 2 minutes against her former team.

BIG PICTURE

At No. 7, the Hokies have the highest ranking in the program’s history. With the victory over BC, a 10th straight win against North Carolina-Asheville on Sunday would leave Virginia Tech in position to move up even higher should a top five team falter.

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech: Hosts North Carolina-Asheville on Sunday.

Boston College: Hosts Albany on Saturday.

Michigan’s Jaelin Llewellyn out for season with knee injury

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan point guard Jaelin Llewellyn is out for the rest of the season with an injured left knee and is expected to have surgery next month.

Wolverines coach Juwan Howard made the announcement three days after Llewellyn was hurt in a loss to Kentucky in London.

Llewellyn transferred to Michigan from Princeton last spring and that seemed to lead to Frankie Collins transferring to Arizona State after a solid freshman season for the Wolverines.

Llewellyn averaged seven points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists in eight games at Michigan. He was an All-Ivy League player last season and averaged nearly 16 points over three seasons at Princeton.