During the weekend, The Cornell Basketball Blog had an opportunity to speak with Chris Hurst, Head Coach of the Arizona Magic U-17 AAU team and Anthony Ray, President of the Arizona Magic AAU Club and Publisher of ArizonaPreps.com about Cornell's latest recruiting commitment, Deion Giddens (Willow Canyon HS) Surprise, AZ, 6-9, 200, C.
While speaking with us, both Hurst and Ray noted that Giddens was a person of high character. "In Deion, [Cornell] is just getting such a good kid. He is very disciplined, respectful, and comes from a military family. He is one of those kids that says 'yes sir' to everything. You just don't see kids like him these days with his level of integrity and manners," said Hurst.
Hurst pointed out that Giddens' character, motivation and drive are key elements in Deion's development as a basketball player. "Deion is definitely a great athlete for a kid his size, he can get up there, has good timing, he blocks shots and is a good rebounder. If you throw it up there for him, he will dunk it." But Hurst explained, "You have to understand though that when Deion joined our program back in February or March of this year, he was really raw offensively, the kid had two left feet on the floor." Hurst continued, "But with Deion, it was about just building his confidence. And with the added confidence, he really improved his footwork and started to develop some little inside moves like a baby hook shot."
Ray echoed Hurst's sentiments. "When Deion gets to practice in college and plays against that level of competition, his game is going to improve leaps and bounds because he is such a hard worker... With him, it is all about his tremendous upside."
When discussing Giddens' long term potential, Hurst said that "[Giddens] needs to develop more of a body, more strength, but with his new dedication to basketball, his desire to play and get better, [Cornell is] getting a kid that can be a real player."
But don't let Giddens' developing physical frame deceive you into thinking he is a soft player. "He wants to mix it up in there on defense. He's physical and will defend for you," said Hurst.
Ray noted that in addition to offers from "most of the Ivy League schools" as well as Bucknell and Houston Baptist, he noted that schools still recruiting Giddens, just prior to his commitment to Cornell, included a "long and healthy list" such as UC-Riverside, Pacific, UT San Antonio, Montana, and Northern Arizona. Ivies which extended offers included Columbia, Dartmouth, Princeton and Yale, while schools such as Utah, Washington State, Boise State, Pepperdine, San Francisco, and Lamar were involved at earlier points in the process.