Student-Athlete Spotlight: Jaylen Kyle

Jaylen Kyle is crossing the pond. Scheduled to start his senior year at Union Pines High School this fall, Jaylen’s been selected to represent the U.S. as a member of the basketball team at the upcoming United World Games.

He’s the only player from North Carolina on the team.

The United World Games take place June 20-23 in Austria. Jaylen will leave for Europe June 16.

“They looked at my film,” Jaylen said. “And contacted my high school coach.”

Capable of playing both guard positions (point guard, shooting guard), Jaylen takes pride in his defensive aptitude.

“I’m scrappy,” he said.

As a junior for Union Pines, Jaylen, who’s 6-foot-4, played in 24 games, averaging 13.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.6 steals. As a sophomore, he averaged 7.7 points and 3.0 rebounds in 22 games.

Along with preventing opponents from scoring, Jaylen excels at making field goals. In a January meeting with Lee County, he had 28 points, six rebounds and two steals. For the season, he converted 56 percent of his field goals and hit 30 percent of his shots from 3-point range.

To prepare for the United World Games, the U.S. squad will begin practicing shortly.

“As soon as we hit Italy, we’ll practice,” Jaylen said.

The largest youth tournament in Europe, the United World Games will feature 10 sports and athletes from 30 nations. Basketball teams play between four-six games, depending on how far they get in the playoffs.

Once he returns home, Jaylen, who began playing basketball recreationally at 5, will continue to work on his game. After finishing his final year at Union Pines — where he has a 3.1 GPA — Jaylen plans on playing at the college level.

Among the schools that have shown interest are North Carolina A&T, Tennessee State and Lees-McRae College.

Right now, his favorite college team is UNC-Chapel Hill. As far as the NBA, he’s a fan of the Oklahoma City Thunder, a franchise that went 57-25, best in the Western Conference, this season.

A pro player he emulates is Paul George.         

“I like his mobility,” Jaylen said.

George spent the 2023-24 season with the Los Angeles Clippers, averaging 22.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 74 games — all of them starts. His field-goal percentage was .471. He converted .413 percent of his 3-point attempts. George played his college ball at Fresno State.

Along with time spent on the court and in the classroom, Jaylen has his own T-shirt and apparel line. To find out about that endeavor, go to www.hooperzapparel.com.

For more information on the United World Games, visit https://unitedworldgames.com/en/.

To nominate a student-athlete for this series, please email [email protected].

~Written by Sandhills Sentinel reporter Dave Lukow. Dave has been honored as both a lyricist and screenwriter. Among other publications he’s contributed to are the Buffalo News, JD Journal, Beckett Hockey, Seminole Player’s Life, Poker Pro, Walmart World, and All In.

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