Alterique Gilbert: Junior Primer

Already a heralded talent, Alterique Gilbert issued forth a statement last summer to the rest of the 2016 class. He now registers among the most explosive scorers in the nation.

How he got here

It was almost a tale of two travel seasons last year for Alterique Gilbert. A product of Lithonia (Ga.) Miller Grove, Gilbert performed well on the EYBL circuit and at the Nike Elite 100 and Lawson/Oladipo camps, but it wasn’t until July’s Peach Jam that he truly scintillated.

And scintillate he certainly did. After averaging a solid, but not spectacular nine points per game for CP3 in the regular season, he amplified his output to 19 points per contest at Nike’s ultimate event. In the process he raised his shooting percentage, getting more opportunities and making the most of them.

Gilbert specializes at beating his man and slicing into the paint

Gilbert’s play has led to his currently occupying the No. 49 position in the national rankings, and he foreseeably could surpass quite a few of those ahead of him if he can tweak his style just slightly.

But he doesn’t need to tweak the winning. Miller Grove has won six consecutive state titles and is shooting for No. 7 this season. Last year, Gilbert earned second-team all-state honors and is enjoying another fine campaign this year, so clearly he has established himself as a key cog in the machine.

Already, he has drawn serious interest and offers from the likes of Georgia Tech, Maryland, Connecticut, Memphis, Texas A&M, USC and others. Gilbert’s recruitment doesn’t appear to be as accelerated as some other players’, but only time will tell if that assessment is accurate.

To 2015. …

Two remarks continually spring forth in my notes: 1) Needs greater balance; and 2) Needs greater efficiency.

Those two qualities work in tandem, of course, and Gilbert’s progress in those areas largely will determine just how far he can go. He’s a big league quickster with explosive leaping ability and a quick trigger to release shots in traffic. He surprised opponents time and again at the Peach Jam with his ability to fire off contested attempts in the lane.

That said, being more patient and circumspect might serve him well. He shot just 37 percent from the field for CP3, though as mentioned he did improve that to 43 percent at the Peach Jam. Still, his three-point percentage languished in the 20s throughout the summer. He ultimately sunk to 25 percent on long bombs.

But I don’t consider that his potential as a shooter. Gilbert doesn’t wield a pure stroke but he’s certainly capable, so in his case it’s truly more a matter of shot selection. If he can tighten that up and enhance his playmaking skills — this dovetails into his need for balance — his entire game will flourish.

At 5-10, he’s definitely on the small side and particularly considering that he isn’t a true point guard. That said, he possesses the ball skills to play it eventually and already can defend it. Gilbert uses his bursting quickness to rip away steals and race in the other direction, and he could become an early factor in college on that end of the court.

From a top-down perspective, Gilbert has some unfinished edges but already creates production — and, most importantly, victories — thanks to prodigious natural talent and a desire to compete.

As he further matures during the rest of his prep career, he could end up making an immediate impact in college as a confident, aggressive scorer and defender. And don’t count him out for the level beyond that, either.

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