NC State point guard Dennis Smith Jr. and Duke forward Harry Giles are joining the likes of Markelle Fultz, Jayson Tatum and Jonathan Isaac as one-and-done players in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Smith Jr. averaged 18.6 points, 6.2 assists and 4.6 rebounds while shooting 45.5 percent from the floor and 35.9 percent from beyond the arc in his only season as a member of the Wolfpack. While his personal numbers were solid, his addition wasn’t enough to lift NC State out of mediocrity. They finished the season 15-17, and opted to fire head coach Mark Gottfried midway through February. In what turned out to be the final game of Smith’s collegiate career, the Fayetteville native scored just seven points on 12 shots as NC State fell to an equally mediocre Clemson team in the first round of the ACC tournament.
Draft Express ranks him as the seventh best prospect in the class, and Liberty Ballers has him fourth on their respective big board. Smith Jr. is a pretty solid athlete (although he seems to lack elite level explosiveness) with an improving jumper who lived at the line last season, but he’s far from a sure thing. He doesn’t possess any great dribble moves that allow him to get into the paint, and he also owned the highest turnover rate of any of the elite guards in this draft class. Smith Jr.’s also a complete black hole on the defensive end, and a lot of that seems to be effort based. There’s a lot of times this season where he just looks like he couldn’t care less. Considering where the Sixers currently sit in the draft lottery, it’s likely that Smith Jr. would be on the board when their pick comes around, but he’s the name that interests me the least out of the group of top tier guards.
In the case of Giles, he’ll go down as one of the most disappointing No. 1 recruits of all time. After missing his entire senior season of high school with a torn ACL, Giles was forced to sit out the first two months of Duke’s season after having arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He finally made his debut in mid-December, and struggled to have any real impact on the floor the remainder of the year. He averaged just 3.9 points and 3.8 rebounds in just 11.5 minutes per game, and notched double digits in points just once. The knee surgeries have limited his mobility and verticality, but it was obvious that Giles’ lack of basketball IQ played just as much of a role in his poor performance. Teams ate him alive in the pick-and-roll throughout the season. Draft Express has him ranked as the 27th best prospect, and Liberty Ballers did not include him in their top 25.
Giles deciding to declare was probably the right decision. Some team in the late first round will end up taking a chance on the potential people saw in him during the FIBA U-19 World Championships two years ago. If he returned to Duke and continued to falter, there’s a good chance he’d miss out on receiving any guaranteed NBA money. It’s certainly possible that Giles goes on to have a prosperous NBA career, it just likely won’t be in Philadelphia.
For a complete list of all the college players who have declared early, Draft Express has you covered.