For recruits, July comes with the pressure to impress colleges because it's the only summer month coaches can evaluate players.
Many prospects rise and fall, accordingly. Daniel Giddens decided to avoid all of the scrutiny, committing to Ohio State, July 4. He didn't take a break this month, though. After committing to the Buckeyes, he went to Las Vegas for the LeBron James Skills Academy – playing a vital role in convincing James to return to Cleveland – and then participated in the Peach Jam and USA U17 tryouts.
As was the case with last week's piece on Mickey Mitchell, Russ Daum – who you can find on Twitter, @RussDaum2 – was at the Nike Peach Jam and watched Giddens. He provided Eleven Warriors a detailed report on the future Buckeye big man.
The Each 1 Teach 1 AAU squad entered the Nike Peach Jam as defending champions, thanks largely to the efforts of the since-departed D'Angelo Russell.
Giddens, in his first year with E1T1, tried to follow in his potential future teammate's footsteps by winning another Peach Jam trophy. With a 6.1 points per game average, Giddens wasn't the go-to scorer. That task fell on LSU commit Ben Simmons, who is largely considered to be the best player in the 2015 class. Giddens' presence still makes people notice him on the court, however.
"Giddens [will] electrify The Schottenstein Center with his play," Daum said. "Think of his on court actions as a bolt of lightning's abrupt flash across a dark sky. A natural event I tend to be in awe of whenever I see it."
More specifically, Daum referenced a blocked shot that sent the crowd and coaches into a frenzy.
"Giddens is the one player I saw make a play that caused normally stoic group of coaches watching to sit back and laugh in disbelief," Daum said. "From my point of view, in one instant he was observing the play from an off the ball vantage point to the left of the lane. In the next instant, he had covered the space between where he previously was to the far right side of the rim to intercept the opponent's path.
"When Giddens arrived at the correct coordinate to reject the shot, he elevated as quickly as any player I've witnessed to obliterate the opponent's shot attempt. His adversary ended up on the floor from the violence of his interaction with Giddens."
In that particular game, E1T1 played CIA Bounce – the Toronto-based program which produced Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Tristan Thompson. Giddens' shot-blocking prowess was on display throughout that contest, piling up four blocks. In his 22 games on this year's AAU circuit, Giddens averaged nearly three blocks per game.
Rim protection is, undoubtedly, Giddens' top strength. His agility when rising to block shots also presents itself when he attempts to guard on the perimeter.
"The few times I watched him hedge, he seemed to be able to do that pretty well, too. His feet are quick," Daum said. "I think he's going to be able to guard similar-sized players out on the floor."
Giddens' defensive attributes make him one of the most, if not the most gifted defender in his class. While he works to improve in the high-post and can sporadically hit mid-range jumpers, his offensive production is generated while elevating above the rim.
"Giddens has definite holes in his game," Daum said. "He had a little trouble with being swarmed by smaller players when post entries were made to him. Fumbles from that pressure made up most of the five turnovers he had. He just tried to move too quickly without knowing his next move once he secured the ball."
With that being said, he still has a year before coming to Columbus. He's transferring to basketball powerhouse Oak Hill Academy, and can use their high-level coaching to improve his low-post fundamentals and cut down on his 1.3 turnovers per AAU game – which would increase if he had a higher usage rate.
Via Courtside Films, here are highlights from the Nike Peach Jam. There are two blocks similar to the one Daum described, at the :08 and :53 second marks of the video below:
USA U17 Tryouts
A week after the Peach Jam, Giddens tried out for the USA U17 Men's National Team.
Giddens won a gold medal with the U16 squad last year, in Uruguay. Unfortunately, he will not have a chance to repeat. As USA assistant and St. Edward (Lakewood) head coach Eric Flannery wrote for Cleveland.com, Giddens did not make it past the first round of cuts.
National team coaches finalized the roster, and it includes several prospects who have Ohio State offers – including five from the class of 2016: Tyus Battle, Harry Giles III, Josh Jackson, V.J. King and Jayson Tatum.
Notes from the Final Evaluation Period of the Summer
- Thad Matta and Jeff Boals were reportedly in Las Vegas at the Fab48 Invitational. Click here for a recap of the prospects involved.
- The Buckeye head coach also found time to watch 2015 five-star and VASJ recruit Carlton Bragg in Vegas.
- Ohio State staffers also reportedly saw 2016 recruit and composite three-star Eli Wright. The Owensboro, Kentucky wing has offers from Indiana, Purdue and Tennessee, among others.
- Matta and Dave Dickerson watched King James 16U in Louisville. That squad features 2016 OSU target and St. Edward center Derek Funderburk.