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Making The Case For Wenyen Gabriel To Stay Or Go

Of the NBA decisions remaining, the one I’m probably dreading the most is Wenyen Gabriel’s. On today’s show, Matt Jones said he’s hearing that, in the very near future, Wenyen will announce that he is going to the draft and signing with an agent, ending his two-year career as a Kentucky Wildcat. After getting to know Wenyen, I wouldn’t judge him for that one bit, but it would really suck to lose a valuable veteran, a rarity on the roster these days.

While we wait to hear the verdict, here’s the case for Wenyen to stay, and the case for Wenyen to go.


• Get your degree

Wenyen is apparently on track to graduate after his junior year, meaning if he stays, he can leave Kentucky with a degree in hand next summer. Yes, he can always come back and finish that degree later on, but with a career playing overseas or in the G-League likely ahead of him, wouldn’t it be nice to get that finished up now?

• Win a national championship

Who knows whether or not that will happen next year, but I like Kentucky’s chances more if they’ve got a contributing junior on the roster. With Wenyen back, Kentucky will have another piece to the national championship contender recipe: a real veteran presence. Wenyen found his way as a role player and leader this season; another group of young players would only be better with him by their side.

• Prove there’s a place for juniors in Calipari’s system

I’m not going to put this on Wenyen, but if he leaves, it only furthers the narrative that elite recruits who don’t end up as one-and-dones or two-and-throughs don’t feel as though they have a place in Calipari’s system anymore. Given the departures of Kyle Wiltjer, Charles Matthews, Marcus Lee, Isaiah Briscoe, and now Sacha Killeya-Jones, that narrative is feeling closer and closer to the truth and I don’t like it.


• Capitalize on SEC Tournament performance

Wenyen’s perfect 7-7 three-point performance in the SEC Tournament semifinals is far and away the highlight of his career and, from an individual standpoint, probably won’t be topped. While his numbers dipped in the NCAA Tournament, no one will ever question whether or not Wenyen can shoot again. With that highlight reel in his pocket, now could be a great time to market himself.

• Provide for your family

This is the most obvious and understandable reason for anyone to do anything in life. Now 21, Wenyen will be one of the oldest players in his class, and with a stable of young bucks coming in — many of them shooters — he may have accepted that the minutes aren’t there and, drafted or not, it’s time for him to go make some money for his family.

If you need a reminder of Wenyen’s story, I encourage you to read my story on him from December 2016, as well as watch the segment SEC Network did on his relationship with his childhood friend Bol, which is clearly on his mind since he shared it again on Instagram this afternoon:


Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

26 Comments for Making The Case For Wenyen Gabriel To Stay Or Go

  1. FlatTopsAndBlockedShots
    8:11 pm April 17, 2018 Permalink

    If the NBA is the goal then leaving now would not be wise. NBA teams just got a taste of what Wenyen could do in the last 5 games. Coming back and just remaining consistent he will work his way into at least an early second round pick.

    • BBNDan7
      8:22 pm April 17, 2018 Permalink

      Or he comes back, minutes shrink or he gets hurt and loses out on the opportunity to provide for his family even if it is in Europe.

    • ukcamel
      9:39 pm April 17, 2018 Permalink

      Or he comes back, minutes and production increase, he is an All-SEC player and drafted in the lottery. I mean if we are just saying everything that could happen.

  2. Catcasey1
    8:22 pm April 17, 2018 Permalink

    Yep and maybe first round. Either way he’s a good young man as well

  3. Dowser
    8:24 pm April 17, 2018 Permalink

    The only real reason/consideration would be… would he be more valuable/marketable next year…?

  4. gasman01
    8:24 pm April 17, 2018 Permalink

    Will have to head overseas if he wants playing time

  5. Dowser
    8:30 pm April 17, 2018 Permalink

    I don’t believe anyone is thinking NBA. But that’s ok! Plenty of money to be made elsewhere! Damn! Look where this kid comes from!

  6. terwilliger
    8:34 pm April 17, 2018 Permalink

    I’m sorry but all of this is just insane. Wenyen f’ing Gabriel? This kid has had two big games in two years at Kentucky and now he decides he’s gonna be a pro? SMDH. I love Mr. Gabriel’s POTENTIAL but he has a long, long, LONG way to go to even be a consistent D-1 basketball player, let alone a professional in ANY league. UK basketball is just crazy anymore. Been a lifelong fan (35 years), I’m a season ticket holder and I live and breathe the CATS but come on, this is just getting silly.

    • Bobbum Man
      9:39 pm April 17, 2018 Permalink

      Gonna go out on a limb and guess you didn’t watch the video or know much about his story… if he needs to
      Provide for his family that’s what he’ll do, plenty of good money to be made playing overseas. I don’t think he or anyone else is trying to say he’s gonna be an amazing pro and a first rounder…

  7. TB112162
    8:45 pm April 17, 2018 Permalink

    Yeah there is no place for Juniors in Cal’s system Willie Cayley-Stein,Darius Miller,Derek Willis,Dom Hawkins,Alex P.sorry that a players ego and outside influences pushes him that way,but it’s pretty much BS and by the way Cauley-Stein was picked 6th Gabriel needs to stay one more year get his degree and then pursue a career

    • jahanc2uky
      10:39 pm April 17, 2018 Permalink

      Why can he not provide for his family in 2 more years? As John Wall said, “they were poor before the 1 year at UK.” Stay in school and get the degree, look at the potential to earn European basketball type money in a real job. This kid has the potential.

    • Jiminy Crickets
      9:03 am April 18, 2018 Permalink

      WCS came back because of injury, Derick Willis was vocal about quitting basketball his junior year, and they said elite talent so Hawkins (a ky boy) knew coming in he was a 4 year guy.

    • Jiminy Crickets
      9:05 am April 18, 2018 Permalink

      So 3 of your 5 were KY guys that were never projected as NBA prospects and WCS was a project that would have left after soph season if he didn’t get hurt

    • Jiminy Crickets
      9:07 am April 18, 2018 Permalink

      It’s also nice that in 9 years with U.K., since cal has been here you found 5 guys that stayed past 2 years, 3 of then local talent and the other two with season ending injuries forcing them to stay longer than they would have

    • EdC
      12:55 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      Well he’s not a freshman so his dreams and his family’s dreams don’t count to Calipari. That’s reserved for freshmen.

      Unfortunately if he returns he is presumed to be on the bench behind the new shiny toys with no college track record of energy and working hard.

  8. TB112162
    8:48 pm April 17, 2018 Permalink

    I’m glad you wrote and article and mentioned the guys that left but not the guys that stayed especially the guy that was picked in the lottery what’s new with a KSR article SMH

    • Mrs. Tyler Thompson
      9:02 pm April 17, 2018 Permalink

      Wenyen was a five-star, top 15 player coming in. Willie, Darius, Dom, and Derek were not.

    • callitlikeiseeit
      9:18 pm April 17, 2018 Permalink

      another top 15 or top 25 high draft pick from High School that goes to Cal and even after 2 years can’t get drafted yet people still think Cal puts guys in the NBA. The only guys he put there would have been there no matter where they went to college and more would have been higher picks from High School than they were after going to Cal. You will argue about Wall and AD, they were top picks right from High School had they left the year before. Cal recruited NBA guys {well used to}, he did not make them NBA players in the 8 months he had them.

    • ukcamel
      9:59 pm April 17, 2018 Permalink

      Darius Miller was graded as a 96 by ESPN, Willie was a 95, and Poythress a 97. Gabriel was a 94.

      Not including those players in this discussionmakes for a tighter narrative, but betrays the truth. Now there is merit to the idea that not many pro prospects play more than 2 years with Cal, but two things: 1. That’s mostly true across college basketball, not unique to Kentucky and 2. Cal is open about his efforts being to get players to the NBA and most top players aren’t in better shape after three years than two years.

      Gabriel should be the exception to the above. He is newer to basketball and had other issues to deal with compared to other players. Another year in the friendly and supportive confines of Kentucky, and getting a degree, would likely be the best course for him.

    • WatchutalkinboutWillis
      10:12 pm April 17, 2018 Permalink

      The stats say both TB and callit are wrong. Only ONE five star player has stayed past his Sophmore year that Cal recruited. That was Poythress. Also callitlikeiseeit is very wrong as the stats show that BY FAR Cal puts more players in the NBA regardless of class rank than any other coach or program. Perhaps you need new glasses.

  9. TB112162
    9:12 pm April 17, 2018 Permalink

    It makes you wonder how people make a living rating these players

  10. JPGott2
    10:07 pm April 17, 2018 Permalink

    I love the kid, but leaving would be a mistake. He was just coming into his own offensively and I believe 1 more year would have been the factor that got him a degree and drafted by the NBA, especially if he gains weight over the offseason. He is the stretch 4 we need to open up the floor next year.

    For those that say he should go because he is poor, I will point to John Wall when he talked about why he never took any money during recruiting: ‘Man, I have been poor my whole life. What is 1 more year??’ He could be the veteran presence that gets UK over the hump. Even w an injury, that is the point of the insurance…and even w an injury he could still play overseas.

    I feel like there is way more to lose by leaving now….but this UK where upperclassmen r a thing of the past. Heck even if a guy should not leave, they will feel the pressure to leave and be like his pals that r ready. The peer pressure to leave early is crazy at UK. Even if they r not ready, they r gone, alas Isaiah Briscoe.

    I will always support him though.

  11. scwhite9
    10:25 pm April 17, 2018 Permalink

    Wenyan is one of my favorite players and has been for the past two years. He is a good kid, good student, and good basketball players. His smile lights up any room he enters. I have always said that he could be an announcer if he ever wanted to. Wenyen, I hope you read these and know I and all of my friends wish you well whatever you do. You will be a success.

  12. nickwheatley23
    10:33 pm April 17, 2018 Permalink

    Wenyen was one of my favorite players last season. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’ll ever be a good nba prospect. Going now is understandable because I don’t see his nba stock rising or falling. He’s going to a be an overseas type of guy, but it would be nice to get a degree. With all that being said, I think he goneeee.

  13. Wilfred Smith
    5:54 am April 18, 2018 Permalink

    Marcus Lee played as a junior. He transferred prior to his senior season.

  14. unbridled
    7:01 am April 18, 2018 Permalink

    I hope he sticks around and graduates. His development, both physically and his overall game will help him immensely. I love the kid and wish him the best…but I think it undeniable that it’s in wenyen’s best interest to return for one more year