Morro Bay High girls basketball star Hannah Gilbert entered high school a 6-foot-tall freshman with a dream of earning a scholarship to play Division I collegiate basketball.
Now a senior, she has grown three inches and developed an all-around game. Gilbert shared hugs and shed a few tears of joy with teammates Wednesday now that her signing is official.
In front of classmates, coaches and family, Gilbert inked her name on a letter of intent in her school’s gym to play basketball at Cal Poly on a full scholarship next year.
“I feel very lucky,” Gilbert said. “I’m honored.”
Likely to play forward for the Mustangs, Gilbert averaged 14.4 points and 10.6 rebounds in her junior year at Morro Bay, leading her squad to a 20-4 overall record and a 12-0 mark in the Los Padres League.
She was named the league’s most valuable player and was a first-team all-county selection by The Tribune.
Gilbert was recruited by several collegiate programs, including San Francisco, Utah, Oregon State and UC Davis.
But she chose the Mustangs because of her familiarity with the program and its recent success.
“I feel like it’s a really good atmosphere there,” Gilbert said. “And it’s a school where I know I’ll get a great education.”
Gilbert joins a list of six other Pirates girls basketball players in the past 25 years who have earned Division I college scholarships.
Most recently, Kelly Blair attended Cal State Bakersfield and San Jose State, and Karena Bonds played at UC Santa Barbara.
“We developed a four-year plan for Hannah when she first came here as a freshman to improve her game,” Morro Bay coach Cary Nerelli said. “She has grown in every way — physically, emotionally and athletically. Her work ethic has allowed her to improve each year.”
Gilbert will end her Morro Bay career among the school’s all-time best in rebounding and scoring.
She enters her senior season fourth in career rebounds with 665 behind Blair’s 987 school record. And she’s 11th in scoring in school history with 765 points. Blair also ranks first in school history with 1,556 points.
Nerelli said that his conversations with Cal Poly women’s basketball coach Faith Mimnaugh led him to believe that Gilbert likely will be a post player with the Mustangs — probably a forward — though time will tell.
Gilbert will bring additional size to a team that already has a 6-foot-5 center in former Righetti High star Molly Schlemer and forward Maddison Allen, who stands 6-4.
Nerelli said that Gilbert has focused on areas of her game that include footwork, shooting with both hands around the basket, extending her shooting range and ball handling.
As a sophomore, Gilbert earned first-team LPL and second-team all-county honors before her breakout season last year.