clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

For Harry Giles III, word that he’d made the Brooklyn Nets roster was a cause for joy and relief

Harry Giles III went from top high school prospect to first round pick to oblivion. Now, after two years out of basketball, he’s back in the NBA.

Brooklyn Nets Media Day Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

When Sean Marks told Harry Giles III last week that he had made the Nets final roster, the 25-year-old’s first call was to his mother.

“Oh, man, it was crazy, bro. I called my mom when I got to the room. I wanted to cry when I first found out, but I was around so many people and I was still lifting,” said Giles. “So I was trying to focus on my lift. I was sweating out hard and I was trying to get through the day. I was still kind of hyped about myself. So once I got to the room, I just laid on the bed and I’m like, ‘Oh my God.’

“My mom was like ‘Has it hit you yet?’ I’m like, ‘Nah, it still ain’t hit me. It still hasn’t hit me. I still feel like I’m in camp trying to make the team. That’s a good thing: keep me in that mindset. But I’m happy to be here and this is amazing.”

For Giles, once the top high school prospect in the country, making an NBA roster is a big milestone. His body had betrayed his career more than once. Injuries, particularly to his lower body, had prevented him from playing in an NBA game since a two-minute cameo for Portland on May 24, 2021. He was signed to a G League deal with the Clippes at the beginning of the next season, but since then nothing. He admitted to beat writers Sunday that maintaining the spark needed to get back wasn’t always easy, but he kept going and after a long rehab and various workouts with NBA clubs, he signed an Exhibit 9 contract with Brooklyn, a camp tryout.

No longer was Giles the promise. He was just another big man hoping for a gig.

“You got to change your mindset. You’re coming out fresh, young, highly touted, hate to say it’s more guaranteed, but it is a little bit,” said Giles. “You get more of an opportunity and more of a look. But you get a little older, go through stuff, go through injuries, a lot of that hype, that notoriety gets old.

“You’ve got to find a new way to get another spark. So I’m just happy that my spark never died out. … You just got to keep working hard and keep pushing.”

Giles got his big opportunity in the Nets second preseason game vs. Maccabi Ra’anana, the Israeli team. Nic Claxton and Day’Ron Sharpe were both out and he stepped up. He scored 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds. He displayed a lot of the offensive game that made him so appealing coming out of Duke.

The game — and his work ethic in practices — validated the Nets faith in Giles, giving him what was likely his last chance at the NBA. Indeed, he has said that no team had displayed more confidence in him than the Brooklyn Nets.

“It feels amazing, man. A little weight off my shoulders, probably never relaxed but just starting to getting comfortable in my workplace, prepare for the year knowing I’ll be around,” said Giles. “I’m blessed. I want to give thanks to God for just getting me through what I went through.”

Currently, he’s the third string center, behind Claxton and Sharpe, but he’s likely to get runs at both the 4 and 5. Details about where he fits won’t be worked out until later Monday as teams make their final tweaks. He could wind up with a standard NBA deal, guaranteed or non-guaranteed, or on a two-way depending on what moves Brooklyn makes with his third two-way, but for Giles, that’s secondary. He’ll suit up Wednesday vs. the Cavaliers. His coach extolled not just his play but his attitude as well.

“Harry gives us a toughness, ability to protect the rim,” said Jacque Vaughn. “Again someone who is a positive force in the locker room, and really has been a joy to be around every single day.”

Same with Cam Johnson.

“You just have to give him a lot of credit. He was top of the top for a long time, and then injuries set in and they’re hard to fight back from. And he’s battled back,” Johnson said. “To be on the outside and get back in is a testament to his hard work, his dedication, his willingness to sacrifice, his willingness to be a part of the team.”