Now that summer travel is over and our weekends aren't dominated by event coverage, it is time for the return of our weekly Starting Five. This week we discuss Harry Giles, Iowa's latest addition and Troy Brown's Duke offer, among other topics.
Giles returning to form
The team that USA Basketball has sent over to Dubai for Fiba's U17 World Championships is loaded, ridiculously so. The roster features 10 current five-star prospects -- and Tyus Battle will soon be moved to that level -- with more than half of them being ranked in the top 10 of either the class of 2016 or 2017. So far, they have been rolling along without too much challenge.
The player whom Rivals.com has been watching most closely on Team USA is 6-foot-10 power forward Harry Giles. Currently ranked No. 3 in the class of 2016, Giles missed his entire junior season and much of the grassroots season due to a knee injury he suffered playing for USA Basketball last summer. In the events that Giles did play with his travel team, the CP3 All-Stars, he looked far less than 100 percent.
Now about 13 months removed from the injury, Giles is getting close and starting to show more and more flashes of what made him such an intriguing prospect at a young age. He has tremendous size, speed, length and a great feel for tracking the ball on rebounds. His explosion is also returning, and he can play 10-12 feet away from the hoop.
Giles' timing still appears a little off, and he is tentative at times when exploding to the basket, but it is easy to see why the likes of Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, N.C. State, Ohio State, Wake Forest and many more have made him a priority. Through three games for Team USA, he is averaging 11 points and 4.3 rebounds.
Australia vs. Canada a good scouting opportunity
Monday morning, FIBA broadcast the game between Australia and Canada at the 17U World Championships through its website. From a scouting perspective it was a very important game to see. Canada has four players -- Jamal Murray, Howard Washington, Brandon Cyrus and Edward Ekiyor -- who currently rank in the 2016 top 100, while Australia features highly regarded big man Isaac Humphries.
Australia fell 85-74 to the Canadian squad, but Humphries was the big story of the game, going off for 41 points (16-23 FG, 9-11 FT), 19 rebounds and five blocked shots. Standing 6-foot-10 or 6-foot-11, the 16-year-old has great hands, good touch and looks to be very skilled. He did the bulk of his damage around the hoop, where he is a fairly bouncy finisher, but he can also put the ball on the floor a bit. Perhaps his most impressive move of the day came when he caught the ball on the run from about 25 feet out, then spun full speed to his left shoulder while barreling through the lane to finish with a two-handed dunk over a pair of defenders. A move like that simply can't be taught.
Humphries is expected to make his way over to the United States to attend La Porte (Ind.) La Lumiere where he will be classified as a class of 2016 prospect. With that in mind, he is somebody that is going to make an impact on the rankings. Rivals.com will continue to watch him during the FIBA U17 championships to determine if we have enough information to rank him before seeing him in person, but it is easy to peg him as at least a four-star prospect (and probably at the high end of that range) and he already has interest from programs such as Arizona, Duke, Kansas and New Mexico.
Leading the way for the Canadian squad was Murray who finished with 25 points. A confident guard, Murray is a high-level scorer who can shoot with range or navigate his way to the hoop and finish. Murray isn't an extreme athlete, but the No. 18 player in 2016 is stronger than he looks, skilled near the rim and has a nose for finishing.
What is also nice about Murray is the flexibility he offers a coach in the backcourt. A point guard by trade, he is a huge threat in the pick and roll because he is a good shooter to go along with his ability to drive. Also, because he has good size, if a coach wants to load up on ball handlers Murray can slide over to the two and allow for an offense to be more versatile because of the extra ball handler.
Ranked No. 50 in the class of 2016, Washington was impressive as well. A steady 6-foot-2 combo guard who has been playing his high school ball in Buffalo (N.Y.), Washington will head to powerful Montverde (Fla.) Academy for his junior season. Washington hit some late jumpers, played under control and did an outstanding job of extending pressure defensively while finishing with 18 points and five rebounds.
Iowa adds Wagner
Sunday afternoon, Iowa added a third member to its 2015 recruiting class when combo forward Ahmad Wagner decided to end his recruitment. In our opinion, he is the best pickup to date for the Hawkeyes from the rising senior class.
Athletic, tough and willing to do the dirty work, Wagner is a rough and tumble 6-foot-7, 215-pound rising senior from Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne capable of playing much stronger than his size might suggest. During the grassroots season, he played primarily on the interior for his club team All-Ohio Red and impressed with his willingness to fight for rebounds and score tough buckets on the interior.
Wagner has a basketball frame that should allow him to add more weight without losing athleticism or quickness. He should be a threat to drive from the high post and the development of his jump shooting and ball handling could eventually enable him to play more as a small forward on offense. But, as it is Rivals.com really likes him as a high-energy matchup problem who is most comfortable as a four offensively but is capable of defending the wing.
Duke offer for Brown
When the initial rankings for the class of 2017 are released in the next month or so, there isn't going to be a guard ranked higher than Troy Brown. A 6-foot-6 point guard, the product of Las Vegas (Nev.) Centennial oozes with big-time potential and skill.
Over the weekend, Brown was in North Carolina to participate in Chris Paul's guard camp. Before making his way home, though, he stopped off in Durham to visit with the Duke coaching staff. Per Anthony Brown, who coaches Brown in the Las Vegas Prospects summer program, Brown spent about two hours on campus and left with an offer from the Blue Devils.
The Blue Devil offer isn't the first or last big offer that Brown will receive. Already on board with offers to Brown are Arizona, Arizona State, Kansas (where his older sister plays), UCLA, UNLV and USC. A phenom who just turned 15 at the end of July, Brown isn't anywhere near coming to a decision on what school he will attend, but his recruitment is already setting up to be one of the most intense in the class of 2017.
Good weekend for Providence
Chalk up the second weekend of August as a good one for Ed Cooley and the Providence Friars. Sunday night they picked up 2017 swingman Javon Taylor, and they followed it up on Monday morning by landing 2015 Rivals150 big man Alex Owens.
A rugged 6-foot-8, 250 pounder, Owens is a product of Orlando (Fla.) Oak Ridge who currently ranks No. 108 nationally. He is very strong rebounder, finishes through contact and always plays tough around the rim. There is no doubt that he has a body built for delivering and taking punishment around the rim at the Big East level. A three-star prospect, Owens is the second member of the Friars 2015 recruiting class and joins three-star small forward Ryan Fazekas.
Owens -- who tweeted his commitment announcement -- chose the Friars after announcing a final three that included Missouri and UCF.
While Owens is a pretty well known prospect in recruiting circles, Taylor is still a bit of a mystery. A 6-foot-3 shooting guard from Chestnut Hill (Mass.) Beaver Country Day, Taylor is regarded as an athletic wing with big upside but Rivals.com has not had the opportunity to scout him at this point. However, it is notable to point out that both of Taylor's older brothers have signed to play Division-I hoops, so basketball clearly runs in his family.