Giddens, a 6-foot-10, 235-pound Wheeler center, gave a present to himself Friday when he announced that he would play for Ohio State beginning with the 2015-16 season.
The 17-year-old rising senior picked the Buckeyes over Kansas, Indiana, Florida, Georgia and Wake Forest.
Born on the Fourth of July, Giddens has always had the pleasure of celebrating his birthday with fireworks, and he set off his own with his commitment Friday. He took his official visit to Columbus from June 27-29 and purposely chose his birthday to make his college announcement.
“July fourth is our nation’s birthday, and it’s my birthday, so I might as well throw something else out there and figured I go on and commit on this day,” Giddens said. “After my official visit, I really felt like this was the place for me.
“I felt like the campus, the environment, the city of Columbus really just worked for me. The trust that I had built with coach (Thad) Matta and his whole staff was a strong one. I just feel like Ohio State is a place I can succeed at.”
It’s the second time Matta has tapped Cobb County for a recruit, though he likely hopes this one turns out better for the Buckeyes. McEachern’s Trae Golden committed to play to Matta as a sophomore in 2007, only to de-commit and eventually sign with Tennessee.
According to 247sports.com, Ohio State has also offered a scholarship to Giddens’ Wheeler teammate, Jaylen Brown. The Buckeyes are one of 15 teams known to have offered Brown, the nation’s No. 4 recruit for the class of 2015, the recruiting site says.
Giddens has been a key player for Wheeler in his three years with the program. The Wildcats have won three straight region championships with him in the low post and they’ve reached the final four of the state playoffs the past two seasons, including a state finals appearance last year.
A defensive catalyst around the basket known for his rebounding and shot-blocking, Giddens averaged 10 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots per game last season in helping Wheeler to a 28-5 overall record.
Last summer, he was a member of the U.S. under-16 national team that went 5-0, en route to winning gold at the world championships in Uruguay.
Giddens believes his hard-working style will fit in well at Ohio State.
“I feel like I bring some grit to the program,” Giddens said. “I’m a blue-collar worker. I’ll bring a competitive winning attitude to a program that is known for winning. They have a great tradition of bringing great big men out (to be NBA draftees), and my mind set is to win a national championship there.”
Wheeler coach Doug Lipscomb is excited about Giddens’ future.
“I’m glad for him and his family,” Lipscomb said. “I think (Ohio State) would be a good fit for him. (Coach Matta is) getting a kid that’s going to mature as he gets to the next level, especially with another year of high school in front of him. Everything should work for the best for both parties, him and Ohio State.”
Rated a four-star recruit by several outlets, Giddens is glad his recruiting process is over, and he looks forward to the day he can officially sign.
“It’s a huge monkey off my back, just knowing where I want to go to college after my high school season is over,” Giddens said. “It’s a great feeling knowing where I want to go, and now I can just work on my game and be a better person.”