The Missing Piece?

The Illini coaches know that landing a point guard is key, and they know that 2016 PG target Alterique Gilbert could very well be the missing piece in the Illinois roster.

One of the most explosive point guards in the 2016 class is Miller Grove (GA) floor general Alterique Gilbert. Playing with CP3 alongside top-ranked Harry Giles on the EYBL circuit, Gilbert has a great array of weapons to whom he can distribute the ball.

However, in a matchup against a Georgia Stars team with arguably one of the best if not the best front line in the EYBL, Gilbert and CP3 had a tough time getting buckets inside, and the shots weren’t going down from outside. Gilbert, though, is resilient and knows his team will bounce back.

"It was great competition,” he said. "I think we played well, but we need to finish better. Sometimes the shots just don’t fall. But we have to fight through adversity.”

Gilbert is a strong transition guard, but admitted that his team’s transition game hasn’t been firing on all cylinders recently.

"Yeah I like to push the ball in transition and create opportunities for my teammates,” he said. "We’ve kind of struggled with that a bit lately."

Gilbert has a good feel for when to shoot and when to set up his teammates, but when he does shoot, he is more than capable of creating his own shot, whether that is using the dribble drive or the pull-up jumper.

"I like to do a little bit of driving and the stop and pop,” he said. "Whatever my team needs me to do, I’ll do."

Gilbert has improved his jumpshot over the last few months, but he’s still not fully satisfied with where it is right now. That’s just one area of focus for him right now.

"My shooting has gotten better,” he said. "You can always work on that and improve on that though. I’ve been working on a little bit of everything. I think my defense needs a little work. Clock management, talking and being more vocal."

Recruiting is obviously rolling right along for Gilbert, who has interest from several top teams, including a recent offer from Texas and new head coach Shaka Smart.

“(Lately I’ve been hearing from) Texas probably the most,” Gilbert said. "Syracuse, Illinois, Louisville, quite a few others. I’m taking my time on my decision."

With spring basketball already at the halfway point, Gilbert knows that not far down the road, he will have to begin to set up some visits and narrow things down a bit.

"I’ll probably start setting up visits sometime after the spring,” he said. "Right now I’m focused on my team, but I’ll talk to my family and figure it out."

Illinois has made a strong push for the Peach State product. The Illini coaches know they have to land a point guard, and Gilbert is one of their premier targets in the 2016 class, regardless of position.

"I talk to Coach Walker and Coach Groce a lot,” he said. "I have a strong relationship with both of those coaches. I like Illinois a lot."

In addition to the pro-style of play, what makes Illinois appealing to Gilbert may not only be what they do have, but also what they don’t have on the roster.

"The pick and roll. They like to get out and run,” he said. "They have a great team but I feel like they’re just missing some pieces, like a true point guard. That’s what they’ve been selling me on is being that guy."

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