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Alterique Gilbert commits to Wichita State

The oft-injured point guard’s time at UConn is over.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

After four tough years, Alterique Gilbert is moving on from UConn men’s basketball. After being honored during senior night this season, the redshirt junior has entered the transfer portal with one year of eligibility remaining, Dan Hurley announced on Thursday.

“Al’s time here hasn’t been easy but he’s displayed amazing courage and leadership in the program,” Hurley said on a conference call. “We’re going to lose that with him...He needs a fresh start and an opportunity to find a place that can give him everything he needs from style of play to connection with family. Al’s got a chance here to kind of hit the reset button.”

Gilbert played his only full season in Storrs this past year, averaging 8.5 points and 3.8 assists in 27.2 minutes per game. He opened the campaign as UConn’s starting point guard but turnovers and poor decision making plagued him for much of the first half. Gilbert sat out the Huskies’ home win over Temple but returned to the team and began coming off the bench.

The Atlanta, Georgia native came to UConn as part of Kevin Ollie’s highly-rated 2016 recruiting class. Gilbert was a four-star prospect and McDonalds’ All-American, though his career never got off the ground.

Prior to UConn, Gilbert dislocated his left shoulder in the 2016 Jordan Brand Classic, which resulted in his first surgery. Once he got to Storrs, it took him all of three games before he re-injured it and missed the remainder of his freshman season. As a redshirt freshman, Gilbert went only six games before again needing to go under the knife and sitting out the rest of the year.

Things seemed to be looking up for Gilbert as a redshirt sophomore until he hurt his left shoulder again in early January, forcing him out for five games. Later in the year against Temple, Gilbert went down in a heap after getting hit in the head. That injury also put an end to his season.

Without Gilbert, UConn’s point guard duties for the 2020-21 season will fall to sophomore Jalen Gaffney and Howard transfer RJ Cole. After a slow start to his career, Gaffney steadily improved as the year wore on and closed out the season by playing at least 19 minutes in each of the last 13 games. Cole sat out this year due to the NCAA’s transfer rules but in 2018-19, he won the MEAC Player of the Year and was an AP honorable mention All-American.

“Tremendous offensive player,” Hurley said of Cole. “I compared him to a quarterback that gets the ball out on time. Sees the floor, tremendous pick and roll, ball screen player. Tremendous court vision. Just very, very efficient offensive player that I think has the ability to make everybody around him better because of the way he sees the floor.

“He’s a pretty complete point guard.”

Gilbert’s departure opens up a scholarship for Dan Hurley and his staff, who have been active in the grad transfer market so far.

“I think because of where we’re at and the number of guys we’re bringing back that we invested in this year, both behind closed doors and on game nights, I think we have more the flexibility to look for qualities that we think are missing, whether that’s toughness, shooting, playmaking,” Hurley said of any potential new additions.

UPDATE:

Gilbert has chosen Wichita State to finish out his college eligibility and will remain in the American Athletic Conference, playing for Gregg Marshall. The Shockers have had a tumultuous offseason, as seven scholarship players, in addition to a walk-on, have entered the transfer portal, according to Stadium’s Jeff Goodman.

Gilbert had received interest from several Power Five schools, including hometown Georgia, Florida and Texas Tech, in addition to several opponents in The American, such as Cincinnati and Tulane.

Just how big of a role the guard will play for Wichita State remains unclear, as Marshall will have to largely rebuild his team on the fly, with so many moving pieces. However, if healthy, it’s likely that Gilbert will be playing significant minutes as a veteran presence.