Before the grills were lit, the beers cracked and the Fourth of July fireworks set off, Alterique Gilbert gave UConn fans another reason to celebrate Saturday.
Gilbert, a 6-foot point guard from Lithonia, Georgia, announced his commitment to UConn Saturday morning. He chose the Huskies out of a final five that included Louisville, Texas, Syracuse and Illinois. UConn was the only school in his final five Gilbert went on an official visit to.
Gilbert has been one of the rising stars in the Class of 2016 recently. He jumped from No. 77 to No. 39 in Rivals' 2016 rankings, retaining his four-star rating. On ESPN, he is rated as a five-star player and ranked No. 23 in the class.
In his junior season at Georgia high school basketball powerhouse Miller Grove, Gilbert put up incredible numbers. He averaged 18.5 points, 6.2 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 5.3 steals in 26 games. He then put in a stellar spring campaign for the CP3 grassroots program on the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League circuit.
Gilbert should fit into the UConn guard rotation immediately. Sterling Gibbs and Omar Calhoun will both be gone after the 2015-16 season, leaving (at the moment) Rodney Purvis, Jalen Adams, Sam Cassell Jr., Daniel Hamilton and Terry Larrier on the perimeter. Kevin Ollie's passion for playing multiple ball handling guards at a time could result in immediate minutes for Gilbert.
The Huskies now have two freshmen committed for 2016. Woodstock Academy center Mamadou Diarra verbally committed to UConn May 22. Larrier, a transfer from VCU, will sit out this season and have three years of eligibility beginning in 2016.