UConn head coach Kevin Ollie and his staff have been productive on the recruiting trail in the Class of 2016, as they’ve reeled in commitments from three players considered by many to rate among the top 100 players in the class. One of those three is point guard Alterique Gilbert, a native of Georgia who spent the summer playing for the CP3 All-Stars alongside talented players such as elite power forward Harry Giles.
Gilbert, who’s joined in UConn’s 2016 recruiting class by forwards Juwan Durham and Mamadou Diarra (VCU transfer Terry Larrier will be eligible to play in 2016-17 as well), will be a key figure for a program that will at the very least lose grad student Sterling Gibbs and senior Omar Calhoun from its perimeter rotation at the end of the 2015-16 campaign.
Above are Gilbert’s highlights from this summer, with Courtside Films putting together the video.
Four-star 2016 recruit Juwan Durham commits to UConn
Juwan Durham, a top-30 prospect in the Class of 2016, verbally committed to Connecticut and head coach Kevin Ollie on Tuesday evening. He announced the decision on Twitter.
“This was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made, but I’d like to announce that I will be committing to the University of Connecticut,” he tweeted.
The 6-foot-9 Durham joins fellow power forward Mamadou Diarra and Alterique Gilbert, a four-star shooting guard who committed to the Huskies in July.
Durham, a Tampa Prep (Florida) product, is rated as the No. 27 overall recruit in the rising senior class by Rivals.
Being outside college basketball power conferences hasn’t stopped Ollie on the recruiting trail (of course, the 2014 national championship didn’t hurt). Durham is the second four-star commit in a two-month span, and is joining a list of sought-after recruits continuing to head to Storrs.
Since joining the American Athletic Conference, UConn has landed two five-star commits — Jalen Adams and Daniel Hamilton — and another four-star prospect in Steve Enoch. That doesn’t include Ollie’s success in landing transfers, like Rodney Purvis in 2014 and Terry Larrier this spring. Ollie also bolstered his 2015-16 roster with the addition of graduate transfers Sterling Gibbs and Shonn Miller.
UConn continues to bring in strong guard prospects under head coach Kevin Ollie as four-star Class of 2016 point guard Alterique Gilbert pledged to the Huskies on Saturday, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. The 6-foot-1 Gilbert is regarded as the No. 39 overall prospect in the 2016 class, according to Rivals, and he’s had a very strong spring playing in the Nike EYBL with Team CP3.
Gilbert gives the Huskies a guard who can make plays getting in the paint on nearly every touch and he’s improved his decision-making as a point guard this spring. More scoring guard than true point guard, Gilbert averaged 15 points, 4.9 assists and 4 rebounds per game with CP3 this spring. A positive in his EYBL campaign was limiting turnovers, as Gilbert only averaged 1.9 per game while he was also solid on the defensive ending, getting 1.6 steals per game.
Joining Gilbert in UConn’s Class of 2016 is three-star big man Mamadou Diarra. Attending basketball powerhouse Miller Grove High School in Lithonia, GA, Gilbert averaged 19 points and six assists per game as a junior.
The Huskies were able to hold off Gilbert’s other finalists of Illinois, Louisville, Syracuse and Texas.
Four-star point guard Alterique Gilbert to announce college decision Saturday
Gilbert, who put together a good spring with the CP3 grassroots program on the Nike EYBL circuit, has taken just one official visit and that was to UConn. According to 247Sports.com, the Huskies are the favorites to land a commitment from Gilbert.
UConn will lose at least two perimeter players at the end of the 2015-16 season in Sterling Gibbs (graduate student by way of Seton Hall) and Omar Calhoun, with Rodney Purvis and Sam Cassell Jr. both being juniors. Sophomore Daniel Hamilton and freshman Jalen Adams are also key pieces in the perimeter rotation. Adding Gilbert to the mix would be a welcome boost for a program that under Kevin Ollie has been willing to play multiple players capable of initiating the offense at the same time.
Las Vegas Thursday Recap: Skal Labissiere, Stephen Zimmerman perform well
One of the positives of grassroots basketball is the fact that the nation’s top talents tend to have more opportunities to hone their craft against other skilled players, and for the top big men that also means the chance to play against similarly-sized players. While there are some high school and prep leagues that don’t lack for size, more times than not during the high school season a player can find himself double and triple-teamed by smaller teams due to their inability to put a bigger defender on that elite talent.
That’s something 2015 center Skal Labissiere ran into on multiple occasions this past season, with Labissiere noting that the summer provides a greater challenge – and more room in which to operate.
“I like playing during the summer more, because I get more one-on-one matchups,” Labissiere told NBCSports.com, and he also noted that the players he faces during the summer provide a greater challenge. “Because in the league we play in [during the school year] I get double and triple-teamed a lot.”
Labissiere matched up with another top 2015 big man on Thursday in 7-footer Stephen Zimmerman, and both displayed some of the skills that have left coaches across the country impressed. Labissiere was productive in the post offensively, and defensively he displayed the ability to serve as a help-side defender at the rim. Zimmerman displayed greater aggression in the post, at one point using two powerful dribbles to get through Labissiere to the basket, while also displaying the passing ability and shooting range that makes him arguably the most well-rounded big man in the class.
And just as importantly, the moments in which he spent too much time on the perimeter were non-existent. However this is something Zimmerman stated that he continues to work at, and with teammate Ivan Rabb participating in USA Basketball’s U-17 camp this weekend the Las Vegas native has more room to operate on the low block.
“I try to do everything I can on the court to help my team,” Zimmerman told NBC Sports. “I think I need to work on being more aggressive, but I feel like it will come.
“Not being so passive,” Zimmerman added. “I’ll catch the ball at the high post sometimes and instead of attacking I’ll look for the pass. That’s not what my team needs. But I think I’ll get better at it [in time].”
Isaiah Briscoe outplays Jalen Brunson in NJ Playaz win: One of the four games at The 8, which was held at Impact Basketball Academy, matched up the Mac Irvin Fire and Playaz Basketball Club out of New Jersey. And while this particular event draws attention from fans due to the presence of coaches who are also (for the most part) current NBA players, there are also quality individual matchups to consider.
This one featured point guards Jalen Brunson (Fire) and Isaiah Briscoe (Playaz), with Briscoe getting the better of Brunson as he led his team to the win. Briscoe’s an incredibly tough customer who has no issue whatsoever with contact, and he was a very difficult matchup in ball screen situations due to his ability to make reads without being hurried. Brunson was quiet for much of the game, but that won’t do anything to diminish his status as one of the best point guards in the 2015 class.
Elijah Cain performs well for NJ Playaz: Briscoe wasn’t the only solid performer for the Playaz in that win, with 2015 wing Elijah Cain also displaying the ability to both attack the basket off the dribble and knock down perimeter shots. Cain’s an interesting case in that he made the decision prior to the start of last season to reclassify back into the 2015 class. And according to Cain, basketball wasn’t the primary reason for his decision to make that move.
“Most people don’t know this, but the decision was made more for my age and maturity and not for basketball,” Cain told NBCSports.com. “I just wanted to mature because I’m young for my class.”
Among the schools Cain mentioned as being most active in his recruitment, Memphis and Delaware were among the programs who were in touch before his solid performance at the Peach Jam with Virginia Tech, Charlotte, USC and Xavier reaching out afterward.
Alterique Gilbert has the makings of a very good point guard: The 8 also provided the opportunity to watch 2016 point guard Alterique Gilbert ply his trade for CP3, with the Los Angeles Clippers floor general serving as one of the coaches. Gilbert can be a handful for the opposition in pick and roll situations, something that played itself out on multiple occasions Thursday. But there are still improvements to be made, especially when it comes to the reads Gilbert makes in those situations. And it helps to have a resource like Paul, who isn’t on the bench solely to make a “celebrity appearance.”
“He’s helped us out throughout July,” Gilbert told NBCSports.com. “He’s very supportive of us and I respect that. A lot of NBA players will make a team but they aren’t really involved with their program, so I like that he’s really hands-on.”
And when it comes to the improvements he’s looking to make in his game, Gilbert isn’t focusing solely on his offensive skill set. There’s also the understanding of the need to improve defensively and as a leader, with Gilbert citing the importance of communication on the defensive end of the floor as something he’s become more mindful of. Gilbert stated that he’s recently received offers by Texas A&M, Memphis, Miami, Maryland and Georgia.
Jarred Vanderbilt another intriguing 2017 prospect: Wednesday provided the opportunity to watch two of the best prospects in the 2017 class in Troy Brown and DeAndre Ayton, and on Thursday 6-foot-8 forward Jarred Vanderbilt took the court for the Houston Hoops. Vanderbilt was solid if not spectacular in his team’s close win over Seattle Rotary Select, using his slender frame to get to the basket on multiple occasions. Given his class there’s plenty of time for him to develop physically in order to better deal with contact when in traffic, and he’s only going to receive more attention from programs as he does.
Ben Simmons: With his performance at Peach Jam, Simmons proved he’s the No. 1 player in the 2015 class. He passes well with both hands, attacks the rim with either hand and has great handles. He also defends laterally pretty well and rebounds and pushes tempo. If his perimeter jumper improves, look out. (SP)
Isaiah Briscoe: Simmons is the best prospect in the Class of 2015, but Briscoe was the best player this week. He averaged 22.4 points — second best at Peach Jam only to Allonzo Trier — and 3.8 assists while leading the Playaz to a title. (RD)
Jayson Tatum: This is currently a tough category to fill, since I saw so many elite 2015 and 2016 prospects this week, but with Tatum’s skill level and size, it’s easy to see why some have him at No. 1 in 2016. While Josh Jackson and Malik Monk were up-and-down this week and Harry Giles is still recovering from his knee injury, Tatum kept on chugging along and putting up great numbers. (SP)
Ben Simmons: I think I actually agree with Scott here, but in the interest of differing opinions I’ll go with Simmons. The 6-foot-8 forward certified himself as the best player in the class in North Augusta. (RD)
Quinndary Weatherspoon: A borderline top 100 recruit, the 6-foot-5 Weatherspoon put on a pair of scoring displays at Peach Jam. He can be a bit inconsistent, but any high-major program that needs perimeter firepower should be tracking this kid.
Levan Alston: The 2015 guard from Team Final is tough on both ends of the floor and a fiery competitor. Coming in just outside of Rivals top 100, I’ve seen a lot of guards ranked ahead of him that I wouldn’t take over him.
NON-TOP 150 SLEEPER:
Braxton Beverly: A 2016 point guard from Hazard, Ky., Beverly was terrific at Peach Jam. He finished third in the tournament in assists while protecting the ball and showing he could his a three-pointer with time and space. He’s tough, too. I saw him fight through a sprained ankle to beat Mac Irvin Fire with three driving buckets in the final five minutes. (RD)
Jalen Poyser: The CIA Bounce 6-foot-4 Class of 2015 guard surpassed his EYBL high scoring mark twice at Peach Jam and had multiple productive outings in the event. Multiple college coaches were intrigued by Poyser’s ability to attack and he has a natural smoothness about him. (SP)
Josh Jackson: It’s not that I wanted more out of Jackson’s talent, of which he has plenty, but I wanted to see the elite 2016 wing take better shots and use his passing more to set up teammates. The 6-foot-6 Jackson was benched during one game at the UAA Finals with five minutes left in a one-point game and that should never happen to an elite player. (SP)
DeAndre Ayton: Ayton is believed by some to be the best prospect is all of high school basketball, but the 6-foot-11 big man from the Class of 2017 is nothing more than a prospect at this point. He’s got terrific physical tools but the rest of his game still needs polishing. The good news? He’s got plenty of time. (RD)
BEST LEAD GUARD:
Jawun Evans: Since I already went with Briscoe as the Player of the Week, I’m going to mix it up at the lead guard spot, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that follows this site that I am picking Evans as the best lead guard from this week. The 5-foot-11 Texas native is, for my money, the best pure point guard in the Class of 2015, and he played that was in Atlanta for the UAA Finals. (RD)
Donovan Mitchell: There are better point guard prospects in the 2015 class, but nobody had a better week than Donovan Mitchell. Whether it was the elementary school day campers at Suwanee Sports Academy or national championship-winning head coaches, they all went nuts over Mitchell’s play this week. (SP)
Malik Monk: The 40-point performance at Peach Jam was epic and once Monk gets more strength, he’ll be able to put up performances like this with more consistency. Sometimes Monk hunts highlights too often, and while the 2016 class is talented, I don’t see how Monk isn’t a top-5 player at this current juncture. (SP)
Allonzo Trier: Trier was the leading scorer at Peach Jam, averaging more than 30 points in the give games that he played, including the 42 that he put up while handing Briscoe and the Playaz their only loss of the event. Trier’s had a great spring and summer while shooting up the national rankings. (RD)
BEST WING FORWARD:
Jayson Tatum: The game just comes easy to Tatum. Although the 6-foot-8 wing was a man among boys playing in the 16U ranks at Peach Jam, you can still see he has all the necessary tools to be a star. (SP)
Ben Simmons: I see Simmons playing a role similar to that of Royce White at the collegiate level, which would make him more of a point forward than a wing forward. (RD)
D.J. Hogg: There aren’t many great shooters in this class but Hogg can fill it up when he gets hot and he has a shooter’s mentality with good size at 6-foot-7. Once he gets in better shape, Hogg’s shot will be more consistent because right now. (SP)
Camron Justice: Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings was front and center while tracking his his commitment. The No. 136 recruit in the Class of 2015 shot very well throughout Peach Jam. (RD)
BEST LOW POST BIG:
Tyler Davis: Again, not the best prospect I saw as a low post player, but Davis was the most productive big man I saw last week. The 6-foot-10 Davis is impossible to move off the block, owns a good set of hands and has improving footwork and counter moves in the post. He’s right on the cusp of elite status. (SP)
Diamond Stone: Davis was easily the best low-post big man at Peach Jam, and Stone was just as impressive at the UAA Finals. He’s getting into a habit where he is settling too much for perimeter shots, but some of that is a result of Stone trying to prove that he has expanded his game. He’s known for his ability to score on the block already. (RD)
KeVaughn Allen: Allen was one of the biggest stock-risers in Georgia this week, averaging 19.0 points in eight Peach Jam games. The Florida-commit showed off an improved three-point stroke, but where he was most impressive was on the defensive side of the ball. He will thrive in Gainesville. (RD)
Chris Clarke: I would take Chris Clarke on my team in any game. The Class of 2015 wing plays hard, defends on the perimeter, hustles after every loose ball and generally lifts the energy of the teammates on the floor with him. He’s just the kind of player that makes winning plays. (SP)
ONE MORE GUY DESERVING OF ATTENTION:
Franklin Howard: Franklin Howard is already ranked and committed to Syracuse, but I was impressed by his recovery from a major knee injury that forced him to miss the high school season. Howard doubled his minutes during the Peach Jam from the EYBL and looked pretty good despite shooting the ball poorly. (SP)
Alterique Gilbert: A 5-foot-9 PG, Gilbert is No. 92 in the Class of 2016 on Rivals. He’s a quick, shifty point guard that can get to the rim and finish in traffic. He also doesn’t appear to get rattled by big moments or big plays. He averaged 18.2 points in the event. (RD)