No doubt there aren't many recruiting journeys, if any, longer than Seattle to Miami -- a round-trip flight that stretches to a duration of about 12 hours.
Yet C.J. Giles eagerly made that wearying junket during the fall of 2003, lured by the prospect of the balmy weather at the southern tip of the Florida peninsula.
A talented 6-foot-10, 220-pound basketball player at Seattle's Rainier Beach High, Giles made no secret of his conviction that happiness would be the Puget Sound in his rear-view mirror.
"It's too rainy there," Giles said. "I didn't like it that much. It just rains 24/7, non-stop."
Rain falls in Miami, too, although not for such long periods, and so Giles took advantage of last November's early signing period to sign a national letter of intent with the Hurricanes.
He'd be there today, too, basking in the warm sunshine among the shimmering palm trees on the white sands of the beaches if Miami had not dispatched head coach Perry Clark after the Hurricanes lost 11 of their last 12 outings following a 13-5 start.
In reflection, Giles believes he had pulled the trigger too quickly in opting for the Big East Conference school.
"I was kind of mad at myself for picking Miami so early," he said. "I didn't really look into the tradition thing at Kansas. My dad was steering me to KU, but I wanted to make the decision on my own. I felt I needed to spread my wings."
Chester Giles played two seasons for the Jayhawks from 1978-80. Giles, now 47, transferred from Independence Community College after the Pirates won the 1977 NJCAA championship and he was named the tourney's most outstanding performer.
However, on the first day of preseason practice in October of 1977, Giles tore knee ligaments and had to take a red-shirt season in 1977-78.
The next year, still not at full speed, he played in only 20 games, averaging only about six minutes on the floor.
Finally, in his fifth college season, the elder Giles made a contribution, starting more than half the games and leading the Jayhawks in blocked shots.
Not surprisingly, Giles' oldest son and namesake is also a natural shot blocker. An inch taller and about 20 pounds heavier than his dad, C.J. still needs to put on pounds in order to become a more effective rebounder.
"In all honesty, he's a guy who needs to spend a lot of time in the weight room," said KU coach Bill Self, who would like to see Giles at 230 to 235 pounds.
A year ago, Giles never considered he would be on Mount Oread, even though both his father and his mother, Gail Goodwin, had played for the Jayhawks. Goodwin, a Seattle native, logged one season under coach Marian Washington in the late '70s.
After Clark was fired, Giles asked for a release from his Miami letter of intent. At the time, Kansas had no scholarship openings, but the NCAA rescinded its controversial 5 and 8 rule soon thereafter, and the Jayhawks suddenly had a couple of more scholarships to give.
Self offered one to Giles, and in mid-May -- it took a month for his release to become final -- he accepted.
"I think it was my destiny that all that stuff fell like that," Giles said. "It feels great to be here and be a part of all that tradition."
Now Giles, who averaged 17 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks a game as a high school senior, is regarded as a strong possibility to fill the only starting job on the Jayhawks' veteran roster.
In mid-October, Self label-ed Giles as the leading candidate for the opening alongside Wayne Simien in the post.
"He has a wingspan of 7-4," Self said. "He's one of the best shot blockers around."
|Full name: Chester Jarell GilesClass: freshmanHeight: 6-10Weight: 220Hometown: SeattleHigh school: Rainier BeachMajor: undecidedBirthdate: September 23, 1985|