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Wenyen Gabriel addresses private message to Jaden McDaniels

Early this summer, a direct message between former Kentucky forward Wenyen Gabriel and former UK basketball target Jaden McDaniels leaked within recruiting circles.

Over the last few days, that private message was released to the public, causing quite a stir on social media.

In short, Gabriel told the former five-star target that unless he was ready to be a star right away at Kentucky, UK head coach John Calipari would “stop [him] from dribbling” and “tell [him] to just catch and shoot.”

“Ayo today I [saw] that Kentucky [was] recruiting you,” Gabriel wrote in the now-public message. “I did a predraft workout [with] your brother [Jalen McDaniels] last year. I [mess with] him so I feel like I should tell you about how I feel about Kentucky. In all honesty, the best part of Kentucky was the brothers that I have for life now.

“I can’t say I wish I didn’t go there because it still all worked out for me, but that [stuff] was [freaking] hard bro and I made a lotta mistakes,” Gabriel continued. “My first conversation with [Coach Cal] he said I was a 6’10 shooting guard… Don’t fall in love with his words let me tell you the real! You look like you could be the next [Kevin Durant] [for real]. But if you not ready to do it like right NOW. Like if you not ready to be one of the [STARS] and make all the plays… then [you’re going to] end up being just a skinny big man there. And trust me, that [stuff] is HARD. First thing’s first, if your handle is shaky, he’s [going to] stop you from dribbling. (That [stuff is going to mess you] up because [you’re going] to feel handicapped). Then he [is going to] tell you to just catch and shoot , or go set a slip screen and try to get open from there. But if there are no bigs, [you’re going to] be guarding all bigs…”

This afternoon, the official Kentucky men’s basketball social media accounts shared a video featuring a compilation of former Wildcats DeMarcus Cousins, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Tyler Herro, and Keldon Johnson discussing how difficult, yet rewarding it is to play at Kentucky.

“Being at Kentucky, it’s one of a kind,” the video began. “It’s not for everybody. … When you’re at Kentucky, you’re going to hit adversity, you’re going to hit a wall. … The expectations are always high. … Your will to break through, keep fighting, don’t let it get you down. … It’s the accountability. … Cal’s going to push you, he’s going to  take it to the next level as a player, as a person. … Trust in your work, trust in the process. … You’ve got to be mentally strong and physically ready for that. This is a school for the big dogs, and if you’re not ready for it, then this school is probably not the place for you.”

Coincidence with the Gabriel message going viral in recent days? Maybe, but the former Kentucky forward certainly didn’t think so.

In response to the Kentucky basketball team’s post on Instagram, Gabriel finally cleared the air about his private message to McDaniels.

“This is literally what I was tryna say…” Gabriel wrote. “I apologized to [Calipari] like 3 months ago. The way it was worded definitely seems negative. But everyone who knows me knows what I stand for.”


On Monday, Gabriel earned a spot on the Sacramento Kings, with the organization converting the former Wildcat’s two-way contract into an actual roster spot.

During Sacramento’s four preseason games this year, Gabriel averaged 4.8 points and 2.5 rebounds in 12.9 minutes per game.

At Kentucky, Gabriel averaged a combined 5.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, and nearly one block per contest over the course of two seasons.

As for McDaniels, the former five-star forward out of Federal Way, WA signed with Washington in the spring and is now a freshman at UW.


Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

51 Comments for Wenyen Gabriel addresses private message to Jaden McDaniels

  1. Brutal Hustler
    7:10 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

    Jack I am cracking up at your use of [STARS] when cleaning up Wenyen’s original message. I was wondering how Wenyen meant it when he said it and now I know

    • Jack Pilgrim
      8:13 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

      Not gonna lie, it took a while to come up with haha

    • Brutal Hustler
      10:17 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

      They don’t call you Jack “My Little Super[STAR]” Pilgrim for nothing

  2. The Professor
    7:10 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

    Gabriel’s biggest drawback was that he couldn’t dribble. If he took more than one he was most likely to turn it over.

  3. ukisgr8
    7:13 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

    There are only 2 people that can leak it word for word. And Gabriel was and will always be a stretch 4. He should embrace that. McDaniels was a different type of player but oh well. We forgive you big guy. Not sure the excuse i agree with though. He seemed pretty clear

    • tncatrn
      7:25 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

      Exactly. I always like Gabriel. He apologized cool. However, he says those who know me what i stand for….well what about the other recruits that WILL see this that DONT know him and the other schools who will show it to whoever hasnt seen it and use it against UK’s recruiting. I just think it is a low blow. I get that he had struggles with handles but it isnt like that is cleaned up if he goes anywhere else. This isn’t Jason Kidd we are talking about, and Sacramento certainly didnt sign him for his newly found crossover…either way still like the guy. Definitely wish him the best!

  4. kenny
    7:22 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

    If that’s what he was trying to say he failed miserably.

  5. mashman 93
    7:36 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

    All good Wenyen. GO BIG BLUE!!!’

    • BobbyBlue
      7:49 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

      Gabriel was the consolation for not signing
      Bridges,who chose Mich State, otherwise he would not have been at Ky.
      Explanation sounds like the excuses my kids come up with. No matter what,it certainly does not help recruiting.

    • StuckinLville
      7:29 am October 24, 2019 Permalink

      Gabriel was the first commit in that class

    • 4everUKBlue
      10:19 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

      How good was Bridges? Not good enough to take over a game.

    • Cletis75
      4:44 am October 24, 2019 Permalink

      4ever, he might have been if he came here.

  6. UKCatAttack
    7:37 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

    Probably a guy who should have transferred but at the end of the Gabriel just wasn’t that good.

    • UKCatAttack
      7:38 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink


    • Trinity45
      7:40 am October 24, 2019 Permalink

      He was okay, what gets me is the dribbling thing, Gabriel could dribble a lick yet he seems upset that they wouldn’t let him dribble. Work on your game and prove them wrong don’t whine about it.

  7. Wilfred Smith
    7:38 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

    Did he mention Cal’s take on sending inappropriate social media photos of your genitals?

    • King_tucky
      7:50 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

      Hey when you 18 n length is half of ur age ,n not talking bout wingspan, u going to show off sumin. Wasn’t standing out on the hardwood,so he stood out with wood.

    • Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
      1:01 am October 24, 2019 Permalink

      King looked it up with a grin.

  8. katmandue2you
    7:46 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

    Was that pic circulating back when Gabriel was here for real or just some look alike?

    • Brutal Hustler
      9:02 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

      It was real, and it was spectacular

    • mashburnfan1
      9:22 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

      Brutal- love the Seinfeld comedy there…….classic

  9. TonyMontana
    7:50 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

    Gabriel was a beast, he gave his all, all the time.

    • Cousins Fake Tooth
      7:54 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

      Beasts usually average more than 5ppg, just sayin.

  10. az1006
    8:01 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

    Sounds like good coaching to me. Can’t dribble? Don’t dribble. You can shoot from outside? Spot up and shoot. Maximize what you do well, so the team wins, and you look good. The horror!

    • WatchutalkinboutWillis
      9:01 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

      Exactly. May sound bad as a player but it is the only way a player with holes in his game is going to see the floor. Do what you do well.

    • ClutchCargo
      11:50 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

      This is consistent with the “Coach Cal keeps it real” message we hear from recruits all the time.

  11. makeitstop
    8:02 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

    Not gonna lie – I never liked him. He got better and he had his moments but I never felt like he fit here.. and he couldn’t dribble, so yea, Cal prolly said “if u keep putting the GD ball on the floor ur coming out.” Welcome to the big leagues. i felt the same thing w Quade and Briscoe… just not a good fit. Nothing tangible, not bad guys, just not quite right.

    • terwilliger
      9:34 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

      Agree on Quade, disagree about Briscoe. Other than stepping on the endline once every game, I absolutely loved that kid’s game. He was asked to do a lot during his time here and handled it all with grace. Wasn’t the best at anything but did almost everything well. He’s one of those guys I will always feel bad that he never made it to an FF cuz he deserved it. Big heart on that kid.

  12. Swizzle
    8:32 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

    So a scrub thought UK was hard, not a shock.

  13. Han
    8:37 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

    Thing is what he said is true, to a degree, though people will argue over how short a leash he gives to different guys. But if your handles are shaky, yeah, he’s not gonna let you dribble. He doesn’t want a guy dribbling around on the perimeter if any guard can strip the ball and take it for a layup. If you work hard in practice and your own time to improve your handles, then you get to use it. Cal’s not gonna let you play through hurting the team unless he has to.

    Pretty much every team does that unless you’re their best player or only star. Does Cal expect even more of his freshmen? Probably. He also plays more of them and gives them more minutes than most schools. And Cal also tells this kind of stuff to recruits, too. No promises for shots, minutes, etc. You have to earn it. If that’s too harsh for ya, Cal wishes ya the best and you can go work less hard at another school.

  14. JerryCat
    9:01 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

    I honestly don’t think that’s that bad. He’s just being honest with the guy. If you’re not ready to be a star, skinny big men don’t thrive here. See skal, nick rich, Sasha, wenyen, EJ? (Too soon to tell). I’m sure there’s a few I’m missing. Cal says it himself. Kentucky isn’t for everyone

    • WatchutalkinboutWillis
      9:03 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

      Willie wasn’t ready to be a star and he succeeded.

    • JerryCat
      9:18 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

      Willie wasn’t good until he put on weight and was no longer a skinny big man. He didn’t do much his first two years then became a star his third

    • ColoradoCatFan88
      9:59 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

      You’re right, Anthony Davis didn’t thrive here at all..

    • JerryCat
      8:28 am October 24, 2019 Permalink

      Anthony Davis is an otherworldly talent who was more than a big man. He could dribble, shoot, and is the best defender in the world.

    • JerryCat
      8:28 am October 24, 2019 Permalink

      Re-read my post. Anthony Davis was ready to be a star

  15. Cmart0907
    10:00 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

    Where was the lie? You have to adapt to Calipari coaching. Every player is different and don’t work in his system. He won’t adjust to the player. Same reason why Skal didn’t work. He wanted to shoot jumpers where he was comfortable. Cal wanted him to post up. KAT could shoot. But Cal wanted him to post up. All I’m saying is CAL have to change to his players too.

    • J-Dub421
      12:42 pm October 24, 2019 Permalink

      No, he doesn’t. Cal makes guys shore up their weaknesses to make them better/more complete players. Wenyen is in the wrong here.

  16. BlueBanker18
    10:50 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

    It can be taken any number of ways. but honestly I’m glad McDaniels stayed away. He would’ve been eaten alive by the overall experience. I’ll take it as Gabriel looking out for BBN and trying to scare the kid away for our sake.

  17. BlueBanker18
    10:56 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

    Being on one of the most boring and inconsistent teams in the Calipari era didn’t do Gabriel any favors either.

  18. Smyrna_Cat
    11:53 pm October 23, 2019 Permalink

    Time to just let this go.

  19. Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
    1:08 am October 24, 2019 Permalink

    Not Wen(y)en Gabriel complaining is hilarious. I mean Cal, BBN, the guy not being guarded by/guarding him all complained about him to.

  20. bbn606
    6:29 am October 24, 2019 Permalink

    It’s an accurate assessment of someone who has been there.

  21. Dark Soul
    6:57 am October 24, 2019 Permalink

    Dude was talking sh$÷ about Kentucky. He cam spin it however he wants. He got his little soft feelings hurt and tried to hurt us. He did not belong at UK.

  22. StuckinLville
    7:34 am October 24, 2019 Permalink

    Gabriel is a prime example of what another year could have done. His shot was really coming along, rebounding, blocking, he could have been a 1st round pick.

  23. msu52
    8:06 am October 24, 2019 Permalink

    Gabriel was a average player his stint here, he had no business thinking he was a one and done, and if Cal told him that when recruiting him, he should apologize. Gabriel was a late bloomer and probably should have stayed four years. But at least he made the league, so I guess it all worked out.

  24. UKinIN
    10:21 am October 24, 2019 Permalink

    Coaches play players that they trust and let them do things that are strengths. You improve your ball handling in practice or individual workouts. Not in a game. Calipari loves to say “If you can’t do [this] I can’t let you do [that].” I’m sure Gabriel was told that if he turned the ball over in practice, he couldn’t handle it in games.

  25. occupyjohnwallst
    10:37 am October 24, 2019 Permalink

    I love Wenyen. Kentucky is a hard place to play and I think that’s all he was saying. He wanted the kid to know what he was getting into. Especially for a guy like him who was pretty raw and skinny in college I can see why he was frustrated.

  26. Elvis Is Alive
    11:22 am October 24, 2019 Permalink

    He was basically telling Jaden don’t come here if you aren’t a one and done big. Thanks for the negative recruiting Wenyen. GTFO here with that excrement.

  27. Catcasey1
    1:10 pm October 24, 2019 Permalink

    I agree with Elvis

  28. tampawildcat73
    7:38 am October 25, 2019 Permalink

    The only story here is how a private text became public.