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Wenyen Gabriel to test waters of NBA Draft

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.

Smart move.


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.

59 Comments for Wenyen Gabriel to test waters of NBA Draft

  1. knowitall
    1:05 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

    Great move by Wenyen. Honestly, I don’t know why almost every kid doesn’t do this, why not get feedback from the NBA while leaving the door open to return. Smart move by him and PJ. Also agree with the decisions that Shai, Kevin, and Hami made. Shai and Kevin are first rounders and foolish not to leave and Hami will always be fringe 1st or early second round so why wait?

    • specks
      2:41 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      Totally disagree about Hami. If he came back and put the work in he could have improved immensely and become a solid first round pick with a guaranteed contract. To say he couldn’t improve his draft stock is absolutely ridiculous!

    • TBW3011
      6:44 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      Yes. Hami could absolutely improve his stock. What he really needed to do was be willing to come back for a couple more years. Any GM who drafts him should be fired on the spot. He’s just not good at basketball currently. Who cares about measurables if you can’t play?

    • Megan
      4:55 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      I won’t be as harsh, but there’s also the apparent weakness of next year’s draft to consider. Hami could have come back, improved some, and found himself rather easily in the first round. The way it stands now, it’s going to be a struggle. Eventually I think he makes it.

  2. deputy305
    1:14 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

    He’s gone too just like PJ and next will be Vanderbilt

    • BBNDan7
      1:14 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      Hey guys look it’s a person who can predict the future

    • Sentient Third Eye
      1:28 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      If you’re so smart, how come deputies 1 through 304 are still above you?

    • Ridge Runner
      3:26 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      I admit Sentient… that really made me laugh out loud

    • RealCatsFan
      1:45 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      Can you give me the powerball numbers for tonight’s picks?

    • runningunnin.454
      4:12 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      deputy305 is a tralfamadorian, and knows the future…stop mocking him.

  3. Lexingtonyn
    1:14 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

    Does Wenyen know they play defense at the next level? See you soon!

    • rartis1986
      1:23 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      Yeah they play defense at the next level thats why every score to almost every game is 150-145.

    • 4everUKblue
      1:30 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink


    • Mathlete
      1:33 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      @rartis – to be fair, it’s also 20% longer and features the best players in the world. Most teams don’t play aggressive defense in the regular season because it’s exhausting, but once you hit the playoffs the real contenders are usually the ones who play the best defense

    • BBNDan7
      1:55 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      He had 40 blocked shots….

    • Luether
      4:57 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      Good one Lex…

  4. nickwheatley23
    1:19 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

    I think he’s gone. Another year probably won’t help his draft stock much and when he finds that out, he’s likely to go overseas to help provide for his family immediately. Hopefully, that’s not the case. Would love to see a junior Wenyen next year and to see him graduate.

    • Sentient Third Eye
      1:29 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      How can you say that? This is a kid who finally had his light turn on in the SEC tourney this year. A year of refining now would make all the difference for him. He’s like a poster child for guys who could most benefit from one more year.

    • WatchutalkinboutWillis
      9:35 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      Another year would absolutely help his draft stock! He can play and improve drastically and next year the draft class is MUCH weaker.

  5. Randall lee
    1:19 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

    Its funny how Kansas, duke, North Carolina can keep several of their blue chip players, but us with a average team with average players still lose almost all of them.

    • acotky
      1:26 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      It gets really old listening to this same narrative over and over from “fans” Cal says he’s players first and he means it. If a kid even has a shot to go pro or provide for their family he’s going to encourage them to do it. Other coaches not so much. He’s not going to beg or lie to a player to have a better team. If you don’t like that go root for someone else. I realize as fans it is easier for us to become selfish and WANT and WISH for things. We have gotten greedy. I have faith that Cal will have a good squad every year (some years great) and he will get the most out of them come the end of the year and tournament time. I will take was Cal has done in his tenure over the Tubby Smith or Billie Gillespie years any day.

    • Natureboy42
      1:51 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      acotky I agree with everything you said until the Tubby BCG comment. Did Tubby recruit like Cal does, no way but he is one of the best in game coaches around. Better then Cal (who I love). Better then Rick. Never a hint of any kind of scandal. Gillespie was nothing but an embarrassment to the university and the state from the moment he stepped on campus both on and off the court. U

    • 4everUKblue
      1:32 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      Do you read at al Randall Lee? Duke lost 5 starters. Get an education and learn to read.

    • 4everUKblue
      1:34 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      * at all. I agree with you acotky.

    • Mathlete
      1:35 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      There are always more players, there aren’t always more chances for players to go make life-changing money

    • RealCatsFan
      1:49 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      Haven’t lost him or PJ yet. Remember when Willie, the twins, Dakari Johnson, and Alex all came back when they could have been drafted? I figured you didn’t.

    • lexslamman
      2:14 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      It’s the money, folks. A kid can get experience and development elsewhere and get paid at the same time, something that’s impossible with the NCAA’s amateurism rules. Talented young players have financial incentive to move on.

      UK basketball is a revolving door of talent. If a player doesn’t develop in one year, they risk being recruited over and losing their opportunity to make an impact in subsequent years. That risk doesn’t exist at the same level at most other schools, until recently, it didn’t exist at our top competitors. Cal has changed the game and everyone else is now catching up.

      Also, UK is a great school (though it’s becoming less so as the campus grows larger and more generic), but Lexington is boring for 17-25 year old kids. Once Lexington’s initial charms wear off, the next closest options for decent culture and recreation are an hour or more away. Lexington has always been an oasis in the middle of a cultural desert. Can’t blame young people for not wanting to stick around.

    • Bobbum Man
      2:38 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      Hey look guys it’s one of the fans who complains no matter what, I don’t even understand the argument… what blue chip players that were pro caliber stayed around at duke? You’d prolly also be on here whining if they stayed about how Cal can’t develop his 5 star players etc etc. and honestly if you think we have or get “average” players you need to take a step back and remember where we used to be… Cal has spoiled you

    • Bobbum Man
      2:41 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      And also, I love tubby but he is not one of the best in game coaches around… he’s good, but he’s not elite. He won a title with mainly pitinos team and drastically fell off after that and also had very little success at his next jobs. If he was an elite level coach we would see the results. Not knocking the guy at all, I loved him and I loved the way he represented the university

    • chrisg18
      3:12 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      You guys need to listen to the radio show today and Matt’s take on the fringe guys. It is my opinion too. You guys talk about life changing money. Sorry, but Wenyen isn’t going to demand “life changing” money, even overseas. I even wonder if someone like Hami will ever get life changing money. Huge risk with these guys leaving early.

    • chrisg18
      3:16 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      lexslamman you are insane in talking about the campus. Campus is 1000 times better than when I went to school in the early 2000s, and it continues to grow. I wish I had the UK campus the students have today. I’ll agree with you that now Lexington is not a great city for 17-20 year olds. It was much more geared towards college kids back when I was at UK. However, it is so much better now for the 21+ crowd. Tons to do these days.

    • Bobbum Man
      3:42 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      @ChrisG… it all depends what u consider life changing money, to a family who escaped a war in Sudan 100k a year is probably life changing money. But as someone else said Josh Harrellson and Randolph Morris made $1 million+ a year playing overseas which is certainly life changing money

    • Commissionersteele
      4:25 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      We cant keep em like dook, unc, etc because theyre all paying those kids. Sure they’ll stay and be good and quiet. Our kids arent getting paid and theyre ready to

  6. ukwildcat1991
    1:21 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

    Surprise surprise

  7. krautdog
    1:37 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

    With Cal as our coach, basketball is year round entertainment with final four conversation!

  8. DelrayCat
    1:55 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

    We really need to keep 2 of the 3 between Washington, Vanderbilt, and Gabriel to be a legit title contender next year. Anything less and we will have glaring weaknesses in our front court.

    • DelrayCat
      1:57 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      Especially need to keep PJ. I really think he will be our leading scorer next year and a top 10 pick in 2019.

  9. MadScientist
    1:56 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

    Smart move! Putting his name out there and getting feedback from NBA scouts will only help him.

  10. Swizzle
    2:26 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

    Just sad

  11. SouthernPride
    2:32 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

    Being a basketball player at UK must be one of the worst things ever. Or Cal is beating these kids with a wip. Is playing here so bad that these guys can’t wait to go play in China and make 40k??? I just can’t figure it out. Cal will get them drafted. Whether it’s 1, or 4 yrs. some of our guys are just foolish. I know he can opt to come back but my god. Can we just keep some damn guys and not have to worry about them leaving

    • Bobbum Man
      2:44 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      Lol… or maybe he and his family escaped a war in Sudan and could use the money and aren’t worried about what whiny fans like you think. And no, Cal isn’t going to automatically get someone drafted, that’s not how this works, that’s not how any of this works. If you’re actually upset about a kid testing the waters and getting feedback from NBA scouts and GMs you’re the kind of fan that gives us a bad name. You clearly don’t understand the process

    • Booby Petrino
      3:13 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      Is playing here so bad that these guys can’t wait to go play in China and make 40k??? Let’s see…zero pay, 40k…hmmm 40 > 0

    • J-Dub421
      3:25 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      Josh Harrelson and Randolph Morris were making $1.5 – $2 MILLION per season in China. Not sure where you’re getting $40,000.

    • SouthernPride
      9:00 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      Bob man… you’re a dumbass

    • UK Big Board Update
      12:19 pm April 19, 2018 Permalink

      SouthernHideBehindtheInternet – Get owned in the comment section – call them a dumbass anyway.

      Got a real winner, here.

  12. Lip Man 1
    2:32 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

    He’s smart to get whatever feedback that he can. Then when he’s told no one is really interested at this time and he doesn’t get an invite to the tryout camp he’ll return.

  13. deputy305
    3:10 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

    Hey 3rd eye, that’s my unit number and BBNDAN-it has become predictable with Coach Cal and the end of the year stuff

  14. Ridge Runner
    3:28 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

    Great move Wenyen & good luck but I admit I’m selfishly wanting you back!

  15. knowitall
    3:38 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

    No not ridiculous to say he was always going to be a fringe first or second round pick. Im not claiming to be the next John Calipari but I did play basketball on decently high level, not division 1 but close. You can see when another play is really really good, good, average, or below average. And there are some things you either just have or do not have as a player. Watching Hami, he is good but never going to be great That being said there is nothing wrong with that, hell, most epople just wish they could be average.

  16. Commissionersteele
    4:41 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

    Listen up, BBN. We cant keep these kids 3-4 years like Duke, UNC, and Kansas can because we are not paying our kids. These schools are. Our kids know it and want their “fair share”. What is so hard to understand about this? Say a kid gets paid $50,000 or $100,000 to play at Kansas. After one year the NBA wants him. He just made $50,000 to $100,000 in one year. But if the NBA doesn’t want him yet and he stays at Kansas for a second or third year he’s still getting paid thousands of dollars per year. How much are our kids making? Nothing. And kids like Sacha and Wiltjer and Matthews won’t stay because they can’t get enough playing time. They love playing the game and don’t need to be paid yet but they don’t want to just ride the bench either

    • callitlikeiseeit
      5:45 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

      you are just stupid if you don’t think these kids are getting money like all others. All it takes is a booster to pay them for a “job”. Just like UNC classes, they won’t have to go but still get the pay {grade}. There are many ways around alot and NCAA knows it but can care less as they take in their billions a year. I was in AAU, small town with a small program that we started from scratch for the kids to learn and have fun, but I could see 15 years ago how crooked all this AAU and USSSA stuff was. All have their own way around some rules, ALL. Some are more severe than others but all have broken rules to get players. Hiring kids parents, or aau coaches etc is pretty blatant but NCAA keeps raking in the billions. Where is World Wide Wes at?

    • UK Big Board Update
      12:20 pm April 19, 2018 Permalink

      Better question: where’s Andre McGee at…?

  17. UKfan in St Louis
    4:48 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

    I don’t blame Wenyan one bit, he seems to be taking his time and weighing his options carefully. But I do disagree with those who say that if you stay 3-4 years you won’t improve your draft stock, or get drafted over. Patrick Patterson and Willie Caulie-Stein are examples of those who were on loaded teams during their 3rd year, yet still got drafted as lottery picks.

  18. TB112162
    5:02 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

    UKfan in St Louis could not agree with you more

  19. Randall lee
    6:37 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

    Hey 4everawhimp if we had senior leadership like Grayson Allen we would have beat k- state and Probally go to final 4.

    • Luether
      9:29 am April 19, 2018 Permalink

      Grayson Allen couldn’t even beat a mediocre Kansas team…

  20. TBW3011
    6:41 pm April 18, 2018 Permalink

    Wenyen is a good student, but he’s about to get a F on this test.