Kaleb Gilbert

Greenwood freshman Kaleb Gilbert was selected by STUDENTathleteWorld to represent the United States in the United World Games next summer in Klagenfurt, Austria.

Fourteen-year-old Greenwood basketball standout Kaleb Gilbert will have an opportunity to improve his game abroad next summer.

Gilbert was selected by STUDENTathleteWorld to represent the United States in the United World Games, an international tournament that will be hosted in Klagenfurt, Austria, in June 2020.

The 10-day trip also includes sightseeing in Venice, Italy, and Germany.

“I’m most looking forward to the sightseeing and getting to play against international kids,” Gilbert said. “Just to see the different types of talent that’s out there, and see how well my game matches up.”

Gilbert is in his freshman year at Greenwood High. He was a star player at Northside Middle School, where he received a Most Improved Player award in 2018 and a Most Valuable Player award earlier this year.

In March, Gilbert played in the All-Star Classic, which gathered the top middle school basketball players in the Lakelands.

Gilbert found out he’d been selected for the United States team after his mother, Debra Terry Gilbert, was contacted by the program. Gilbert was discovered by a scout during one of his basketball tournaments this summer.

“I was just excited, very excited,” Gilbert said. “It made me feel like my work was finally starting to pay off and starting to show. It felt good that somebody saw I was putting in the work and felt like I was good enough to be selected.”

Greenwood boys basketball coach Kelcey Stevens has been impressed with what he’s seen from Gilbert during his limited time with him. Stevens said Gilbert’s already shown that he’s coachable and wants to be pushed to be the best player he can be.

Gilbert has also already shown his star potential on the basketball court.

“Kaleb’s one of those kids where, when you look at him, he stands out instantly,” Stevens said. “And when you talk to him, he stands out as well, because he’s a humble young man. When you coach him and watch him play, you just see flashes of brilliance. He’s a kid that has a chance to be extremely good.”

The 6-foot-2 Gilbert projects to play as a swingman during his time with the Eagles. He’s a steady shooter and has the ability to score from all three levels on the floor. His explosiveness and athleticism has impressed Greenwood the most, along with his ability to defend at a high level.

Stevens said Gilbert is “on the bubble” between being a varsity or junior varsity player. He played in scrimmages with the varsity team in the summer, but Stevens said he’s expecting Gilbert to go through a learning curve either way, just like any other freshman.

“He’s going to be a kid that we continue to watch,” Stevens said. “There’s still plenty of time before the season. He’s still got time to continue to work and improve. If he’s not a four-year varsity player, he’ll definitely be a three-year varsity player, without a doubt.”

The Austria trip should go a long way in helping Gilbert’s development. Stevens said he’s excited for Gilbert to face top international youth talent.

“It’s going to be a unique experience, and a great opportunity that a lot of people don’t get,” Stevens said. “He’ll be playing against a different style of basketball, probably, and it’s just a unique experience that he can use to grow.”

In the meantime, Gilbert will continue to develop against top competition in the Lakelands.

“I want to display my God-given talents and try to get better at all my weaknesses so I can be the best I can be,” Gilbert said. “I have wonderful teammates. They’re great role models and help me get better.”

Contact sports writer Wesley Dotson at 864-943-2530 or follow him on Twitter @WesleyPDotson.