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The ultimate assist leader—Eckerd College basketball star George Kimble III

By Tom Zucco
Published February 2, 2024
Categories: Athletics, Community Engagement, Student Life, Students

Kindness and George Kimble III always seem to show up together.

It was during the Christmas holidays 14 years ago, and George, who is now a first-year student and basketball standout at Eckerd College, was in kindergarten at a Tampa elementary school. He had gotten quite a few toys underneath the tree that year, but then he learned of a family with several children who wouldn’t have a Christmas. So George asked his parents if he could give his toys to the family. “It kind of went from there,” he says now.

A short time later, he and his family founded the nonprofit WeSeeU Inc., which has grown from donating toys, bicycles and backpacks to needy families during the holidays, to year-round programs that provide gift baskets to nursing homes, offer mentorship and financial literacy education to students in underserved schools, and send handwritten thank-you notes to teachers, first responders and active-duty service members.

Not long after he arrived at Eckerd last fall, George was one of more than a dozen Eckerd basketball players and coaches who grabbed shovels and rakes and did volunteer cleanup work in the Shore Acres neighborhood of St. Petersburg after Hurricane Idalia flooded hundreds of homes. “There was one older lady whose house was completely flooded,” he says. “She kept saying how grateful she was that we were there. We were just glad we could help.”

Group photo of men's basketball players and coaches

George (front row, third from left) and the team volunteered during the Christmas holiday.

That,” Eckerd College Head Men’s Basketball Coach Bryan Galuski ’98 says with a smile, “is George.”

George averages over 20 points a game. Video and photos by Brittany Iamele

He can dribble a basketball as if it’s magically attached to his hand. And he can shoot. As of late January 2024, he was Eckerd’s leading scorer (20.8 points per game) and the assists leader. A cat-quick, 6-foot-2, 180-pound point guard, George, his coaches say, also has superb court awareness. He always knows where everyone is and what to do next. Case in point: During a game against Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University on Jan. 24, George stole the ball near midcourt with six seconds left to seal a 76–73 Triton victory. In the stands, as always, were his parents. They never miss a game, home or away.

George started playing organized basketball at a local YMCA at age 2, usually dribbling circles around players twice his size. In middle school, he started playing junior varsity high school basketball—his first two years at Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate High in Tampa before he transferred a few miles south to Berkeley Preparatory School.

“George had some really great coaches and mentors who poured into him throughout his basketball career, including his greatest coach, his dad—George Kimble Jr.,” says Tanya Kimble, George’s mom.

“However, Li’l George has always had his own unrelenting work ethic and desire to train to always get better.”

Galuski and the rest of his coaching staff convinced George to come to Eckerd. They went to all of his games his senior year at Berkeley Prep. They attended his graduation. After being selected by Prime Time Preps as the 2023 Hillsborough County Player of the Year in athletics and academics, and after leading Berkeley Prep to the best basketball record in school history, George was recruited by the University of South Florida, Jacksonville University and the University of Tampa. “But the coaches at Eckerd really wanted me,” George explains. “That was the difference.”

Galuski says he knew George had the ability to play at the college level, “but he’s also a super kid and an excellent student. It was a no-brainer. He’s a local kid; he’s humble and reserved, but at the same time he’s dynamic, a great personality in the locker room.

“And he’s dynamic with the ball. No one can stay in front of him. He can get to where he wants whenever he wants. And he has the ability to be one of the best defenders in the conference. George is a player you need to go to the national tournament and win the conference championship. He’s that kind of guy.”

A communication major minoring in journalism, George says he likes the competitiveness of the game. “When you get into the heat of the game, that’s the most fun. A lot of people put stress on it, but if you put in a lot of work, you just go out and have fun with it.”

Not always. He has surgical scars that run along the back of both hands from his wrists to his knuckles, reminders of two broken hands. One break was from a mistimed backflip attempted in eighth grade; the other came when his hand got tangled in the jersey of a teammate during a scrimmage on campus last fall. He was out of the lineup from Oct. 21 to Dec. 9. “It’s strange that something like that happened to both hands,” he admits. “But both hands are doing well now.”

With his first semester under his belt, George says life at Eckerd “is going really well. I’ve really adapted to being here and I’m making new friends.”

He adds, “It’s so easy to talk to a professor, or anyone around campus. I’ve met a lot of international students that I probably would not have met at other schools. Everyone here is different in their own way, and that creates an opportunity for people to be themselves.”

Creating opportunities is something George is familiar with. His mom explains that he first attended Carrollwood Day School in Tampa at a time when it was trying to become more inclusive and diverse. She says, “George was part of a new scholarship program and would be a perfect fit for the school, we were told. All the teachers, students and parents loved him. He made the high honor roll and got a recognition award from President Obama for academic excellence all in just his first couple of years of attending the school.

“One school staff member used to always call him a trailblazer because of the many paths he created for others simply being himself. We are just so thankful and blessed that George has a heart to serve and help others. We are so proud of him.”

Clips of George playing high school ball

At Carrollwood Day School, George encouraged fellow students and their families to get involved in the WeSeeU organization. “They wanted to know how they could help,” Tanya says, “and some have been involved with the nonprofit for many years now.”

Most of those years the Kimble family would put up a Christmas tree at the last minute because they were busy wrapping presents to give away. Tanya remembers asking her son a few months before his high school graduation if he ever felt left out during any of the Christmas seasons because the family’s focus was on those less fortunate.

“He looked me straight in the eyes and said, ‘Ma, I never needed anything for Christmas. I always had everything I wanted. I was happy to be helping others.

“Thats who George is.”