They didn’t realize they had ever played against one another until their first year of high school.
Jayson Tatum was in St. Louis and Harry Giles in Winston-Salem.
Growing up with a couple of states wedged between them, basketball always connected the best friends, who both found their way to Duke last year.
He was a little curly-hair kid back then, he had his hair out a little bit.
Duke freshman Harry Giles on fellow rookie Jayson Tatum
Giles was once one of the top NBA draft prospects before a knee scope delayed his college debut more than five weeks, and Tatum could be a lottery pick later this year.
Despite what happens at the end of this season, it will likely be one of the last times they can be this close.
“That’s my boy,” a bubbly Giles said Thursday from Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C., the site of the Blue Devils’ first NCAA tournement game. Duke, the No. 2 seed in the East, will play No. 15 Troy on Friday at 7:20 p.m.
“We’ve been knowing each other for a long time,” Giles said of Tatum, who was seated to his left. “Kind of just bonding, just like anybody else, other best friends would. Freshman year in high school, we talked about what teams we played for. He was a little curly-hair kid back then, he had his hair out a little bit, so it was different.
“Ever since then, we clicked.”
Giles and Tatum, both freshman forwards, are suitemates at Duke.
They played on the USA Basketball team from 2013 to 2015, rooming together for the duration. They respectively own three gold medals from the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 championship in Uruguay, the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship in Greece.
“Those trips were almost a month long. We’d spend every day together on those trips,” Tatum said Thursday. “Harry, he was my best friend before we came to Duke. We’ve been great friends for a long time, just playing AAU against each other, playing in camps and things like that.”
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan