If you were to take a look at a stat sheet for this year’s Harvard men’s basketball team, the name Dee Giger would not immediately catch your eye. But Giger, who is one of the Crimson’s five graduating seniors, has contributed valuable time and effort toward the program’s groundbreaking league championships and NCAA Tournament bids over his four-year career.
For Giger, this year’s dance will be an opportunity for him to take his first minutes on the floor during March Madness.
Demetrius “Dee” Giger, a 6’6” guard who hails from Arden, N.C., came into Harvard as a high school superstar ready to make an impact on the team. His alma mater, Christ School, won the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association championship in all three of Giger’s years on the team. The sharpshooting Giger also earned all-conference honors in each of his four seasons of high school basketball.
“Dee joined a group of amazing basketball players when he came to Christ School,” Giger’s high school coach David Gaines said. “What was great is that they really just cared about winning. Dee was one that didn’t care how many shots he got. He had games where he would score 17 or 18 points but the next one only six, but if the team won, that’s all that mattered.”
Arriving in Cambridge in 2009, Giger was placed in the Crimson lineup behind future NBA star Jeremy Lin ’10. Despite coming onto the team in Lin’s shadow, Giger made appearances in all 29 regular season games, though he did not make a start.
Giger averaged 12.1 minutes 4.5 points a game his freshman year. A clutch moment in his rookie campaign came against Yale in New Haven. With Lin fouling out with 1:15 left in regulation of a tight early conference game, Harvard coach Tommy Amaker put Giger on the floor.
The freshman guard did not disappoint, hitting a game-tying three pointer with 27 seconds remaining to help send the game into overtime. In the extra frame, the freshman drained two free throws in the closing seconds to seal an 82-79 Crimson victory over the Bulldogs.
In his debut year, Giger recorded most of his career-high stats and earned an Ivy League Rookie of the Week nod. The freshman set career bests for points (14), field goals made (6), three point field goals (4), and free throws made (5).
In his sophomore season, Giger appeared in less than half as many games (13) and averaged 2.6 minutes per game. In his third year, Giger appeared in just five games and averaged two minutes per game as Harvard earned its first NCAA Tournament berth since 1946.
“Dee was never going to be a primary ball handler,” Davis said. “He had a growth spurt between eighth and ninth grade where he grew about six inches, so it affected his ball handling skills. He was not built to be a point guard—he’s a big wing that can shoot over people, and that’s been his role.”
After taking a year off, Giger returned to Harvard basketball this season for his senior campaign. With 11 game appearances and a start on the year, Giger has increased his average minutes per game to 4.8. In the Crimson’s Nov. 15 game against Howard, Giger recorded a career-high three steals.
On Senior Night, Giger made his first career start and played five minutes against Cornell in a 72-47 blow out win that kept the Crimson in control of the Ivy League.
“We went into this game for senior day and senior night starting our seniors,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. “It was nice to be able to play a lot of players, but when you start the game you have guys that get three, four, five minutes right away on the bench.”
For the Gigers, Harvard basketball has been a family affair. During the halftimes of the Crimson’s final two home games of the 2009-2010 season, Dee’s then-nine-year-old sister Amya, who had battled respiratory and immune disorders, led cheers with the Crimson cheerleading squad. That experience made Giger’s Senior Night start all the more meaningful as he took the court in front of family and friends.
“For Dee to get a start and for the family that’s here and his parents, I am very happy about that,” Amaker said. “We are able to have a nice moment. For all the seniors but also for Dee in particular.”
—Staff writer Ariel Smolik-Valles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.