Connecticut senior forward Niels Giffey is no stranger to the Huskies brand of basketball. Over the course of his career, he has appeared in 101 games, starting 15 of them. During his freshman season, his former coach, Connecticut legend Jim Calhoun, saw his potential and awarded him with 10 starts. However, injuries plagued the German-born Giffey over the next two seasons, and prior to this year, his career averages stood at an insignificant 3.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per contest. In other words, he was what some people labeled as “nothing special.”
That is, until they saw him step on the court this season. Giffey tied his career-high of 15 points last game against Yale, coming off of a 13-point performance in the season opener against Maryland. What’s so special about these numbers? His shooting percentage. So far, the German sharpshooter has hit 8-of-9 three-pointers, or 88.9 percent of his long-range shots. If it wasn’t for a missed attempt in the middle of the second half against Yale, he would be a perfect 8-of-8 on the season. Last season, he shot 10-for-34 from three-point range, or just over 28 percent. What a shift.
Giffey can certainly attribute his new-found confidence to his experience competing on the German National Team this summer, where he was awarded the starting small forward role. During the European Championships, called EuroBasket, held in Slovenia in early September, Giffey averaged 9.2 points during five games, in which he also went 7-of-10 from three-point range. He was Germany’s fourth-leading scorer and gained experience playing in a tournament that included many NBA players, including All-Stars Tony Parker and Marc Gasol. Coming back to the college game after that experience must have been a wake-up call for Giffey. All along he possessed the talent, and now he has the drive and the confidence to put his gift to use.
My bold prediction: Giffey will surpass his career total of 280 points by at least 100, earning him a deep second-round selection in the 2014 NBA Draft based on his sharpshooting ability.