By Matt Citak

With the 2018 Winter Olympics set to get underway, CBS Local Sports will be profiling five young, up-and-coming, Olympic athletes whose names you will likely hear a lot during the course of the Games. These athletes are our “Rising Stars” for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea.

The 2018 Winter Olympics have not begun, yet Jordan Greenway is already set to make U.S. Olympic history. When Greenway takes the ice in Pyeonchang, South Korea, he will break down a century-old barrier as he becomes the first African-American player to ever play for the U.S. Olympic Men’s Hockey Team.

“Even starting in 1960 when we had the amateurs playing in the Olympics and we were able to get the gold medal there, and then most recently in 1980, just being able to build on that legacy is an unbelievable feeling for me, and I’m happy I’m able to get this opportunity now,” Greenway said in an interview earlier this year. “I’ve been able to accomplish a lot of good things and just allowing a lot of African-American kids who are younger than me who see kind of what I’m doing, I hope that can be an inspiration for them.

“Go out and do something different against the typical stereotypes that most African-Americans play basketball, or whatever the case is.”

gettyimages 630740146 e1516383805499 Rising Stars: Jordan Greenway

Credit: Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Greenway was a second-round pick of the Minnesota Wild in the 2015 NHL Draft, and is considered a highly coveted prospect within the organization. The 6-foot-6, 235-pound forward could have signed with the Wild this offseason. However the 20-year-old chose to return to Boston University for another season, with the potential of playing for Team USA possibly playing a role in that decision.

The Men’s Ice Hockey tournament at this year’s Olympics will have a very different feel from what fans are used to seeing in recent Winter Games. For the first time since the 1994 Winter Olympics, the National Hockey League will not participate in the Olympic Games, ending a run of five consecutive Winter Olympics with NHL players. Greenway is one of four collegiate players who will represent the United States in the tournament.

Greenway has been enjoying a successful junior season at BU. Through 22 games, Greenway is fourth on the Terriers in points with eight goals and 10 assists. This comes after the forward put together two consecutive strong seasons to start his career at Boston University. Greenway racked up 26 points on five goals and 21 assists in 39 games during his freshmen year, and followed that up with a 31-point campaign (10 goals and 21 assists) in 37 games during his sophomore season.

While his play at the collegiate level definitely helped his case, it was his stellar performance at the 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship in Canada that truly propelled Greenway’s selection to the U.S. Olympic team. The Canton, New York-native amassed three goals and five assists in seven games for the U.S. team, which went on to win the gold medal.

“I’m really really happy for him,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said in early January. “He’s earned it. He had a great summer camp here as well. … He’s somebody that I think once he’s done with school he’ll be ready to play. As an organization, we couldn’t be happier that they picked him for the Olympic team.”

The U.S. Men’s Olympic Ice Hockey Team will be competing in Group B with Russia, Slovakia, and Slovenia. The U.S. is set to open it’s play in the Preliminary Round on Wednesday, February 14th against Slovenia.

Matt Citak is a producer for CBS Local Sports and a proud Vanderbilt alum. Follow him on Twitter or send comments to mcitak@cbs.com.

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