Wenyen Gabriel is declaring for the NBA Draft, but will not sign with an agent at this time, leaving the door open to return to Kentucky for his junior season.
“My dream has always been to play professionally,” Gabriel said. “After talking with Coach Cal and the staff, they believe it’s in my best interest to see where I stand in the eyes of the NBA. I’m confident I can play at the next level, but I want to be absolutely certain that this is the right decision for me at this time. I know that I have the opportunity to return to school and that I will have the full support of the coaching staff and the Big Blue Nation. No matter what happens, I love this university and all the opportunities it’s been able to provide me.”
“Wenyen knows how much I would like to coach him another year, but I also understand the situation he’s in and his desire to pursue his dreams,” John Calipari said. “The great part about this process is Wenyen will know firsthand where he stands with the NBA. If it’s his time and he can continue on the path that he went on this year, he becomes a valuable asset for a team because of his energy, his willingness to do anything to win and his ability to stretch the floor. If he needs to return to school, we will continue to push him to be the best version of himself as we try to chase a championship next season. It’s a win-win for him, and he has my full support.”
Last season, Wenyen averaged 6.8 points and 5.4 rebounds but came on strong in the final stretch. Over the last nine games of the season, he averaged 9.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.1 3-point field goals per game, becoming UK’s go-to perimeter shooter. He set a UK and SEC Tournament record in the semifinals by going a perfect 7-7 from the outside en route to 23 points.
Wenyen is the fifth Kentucky Wildcat to declare for the draft, joining Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PJ Washington, and Hamidou Diallo. Knox, Alexander, and Diallo all plan to sign with agents, while Wenyen and PJ will not, for now. Both have until May 30 to decide whether or not they will return to Kentucky.