Gilbert impresses as two-sport talent

At this juncture, the evidence suggests strongly that Mark Gilbert will sign for football. After all, with offers in hand from Michigan, NC State, Wake Forest, Boston College, Duke and others, he boasts a very strong collection of possibilities for the gridiron.

And yet, after watching him in the state championship game and the Super 60 on consecutive weekends, I can say emphatically that Mark Gilbert is a legitimate basketball prospect as well.

A 6-1 shooting guard at Fayetteville (N.C.) Terry Sanford, Gilbert scored 31 points to lead Terry Sanford to the Class 3A state title, capturing MVP honors in the process. Given that he’s surrounded by other Division I prospects — and full-time hoopsters — his exploits become all the more impressive.

Gilbert is a strong and determined wing scorer who spots up for threes and also loves two-dribble pullups from 16 feet. A southpaw, he wields a very tight, textbook jump shot that nearly always looks like it will find the net.

He’s obviously slightly small for the wing at 6-1, as he’s a pure two-guard, not a combo. And yet, plenty of college programs manage to make those kinds of positional challenges work out just fine, but it’s football more than any other factor that could drive him away from basketball.

”I’ll probably sign for football,” Gilbert said. “It’s tough balancing both sports, but I love them both.”

Gilbert actually missed much of his sophomore basketball season after suffering from a knee avulsion. If you don’t know what that is, it’s when bones actually separate, and it forced Gilbert into a wheelchair. Now that he’s healthy, then, it’s certainly possible that with wider exposure his basketball offers will begin to catch up with his football overtures.

As it stands now, two of his football suitors also have expressed interest in basketball.

NC State and Boston College both have said that I could play both (sports),” Gilbert said.

Of course, anyone who plays football on scholarship must sign a football grant in aid, and as such the gridiron coaches tend to command a two-sport star’s time, even if he’s also recruited by the basketball team.

So for now, Gilbert — a three star prospect as a cornerback — still projects as a 2016 football signee. Nevertheless, we’ll keep tabs on him in case his perspective and opportunities change over the next six months.

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