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What I would do if I were P.J. Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt and Wenyen Gabriel

Hey folks! I hope you’re enjoying your Tuesday evening. While we all wait to hear the decisions of P.J. Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt and Wenyen Gabriel, I thought I’d post some late night rumblings and what I would do if I were in their shoes.

The good news is we are within 26 hours of final decisions. The bad news is we may actually have to wait until close to midnight tomorrow.

Here a few thoughts on Washington, Vanderbilt and Gabriel:

The Decisions: I’m still in the dark and that seems to be the case for just about everyone on the beat. I can say with some certainty that as I’m typing this that no UK player has currently signed with an agent as of Tuesday. That may come as a no surprise as that information could easily be leaked if it happened, but it still shows that the three are leaving every possibility of a return on the table. That doesn’t mean all three are returning to UK, but it also means as of tonight none are officially out the door.

The Wait: While I think that UK’s staff knows what the players will do (Matt Jones disagreed with me on KSR this morning), they have given them all the time in the world to be able to weigh every single aspect of their decision. Hell, and maybe one of the three will have a change of heart different than what UK’s staff expects. I know it can be frustrating for fans to have to wait and see what happens, but if UK’s staff isn’t annoyed by the wait then we should probably be patient, too.

In my opinion all decisions have (likely) been made but I did have a person that has gone through this in the past tell me that it only takes one phone call for your decision to change. Hamidou Diallo told reporters last year he changed his mind a few times leading up to his late night decision. I do think the fact this is going down to the wire is normally a good thing if you want these kids to return to UK. All three won’t return, but I’d be surprised if all three left.

My Opinion: I won’t pretend to know any of these kid’s injury, family or financial situations, but I get asked all the time what I would do if I were in their shoes. I’ve talked about it on radio but I’ll write it here (remember, this is just my opinion):

Washington: I honestly think Washington could return to UK and become a top 20 pick in 2018-2019. Most of the time I use end of season momentum to dictate what I think a player can become the following season. In Washington’s last 12 games he finished with double-digit scoring in 11 of those games. During that stretch he averaged 13 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. A bucket and a rebound extra per game (based on his season average) may not seem like a lot, but Washington was UK’s ONLY post presence last season. It was one of John Calipari’s worst three-point shooting teams, too.

If Washington surrounds himself with shooters and has a little help on the block I think you see him shine. If the Cats make a Final Four run and Washington is the heart and soul of the team then you would see him locked in as a first round pick. With no first round guarantee in 2018 and mostly likely not a top 10 pick in the second round I think Washington should return.

Vanderbilt: We don’t know his injury status and that makes things so difficult. I can only imagine what Vanderbilt and his family are thinking. This is a major decision for every player lucky enough to make it, but the stakes seem highest for Vanderbilt.

He can return, hopefully stay healthy and show everyone he’s worthy of a first round pick.

He can return, risk getting injured again and have no NBA team trust him to stay healthy if that happens, possibly making him a four -year player at UK.

He can go pro, maybe get drafted, and trust an NBA team to be patient with his recovery all while being paid (amount unknown).

He can go pro, maybe get drafted and possibly have an NBA team realize he’s not worth the time, leaving him to climb a ladder up the G-League or give up on his NBA dream entirely and play overseas.

It’s a tough decision. He knows UK will be patient and give him the treatment/time he needs, but he also knows he won’t be getting paid during those treatments with no guarantees he will ever be paid. He also knows that NBA teams may be interested, but can find another player similar to him that won’t have major injury concerns.

I wouldn’t blame Vanderbilt one bit if he decided he needed to try and start getting some money.

Gabriel: Again, I don’t know anyone’s financial or family situation but with Gabriel being so close to graduating I think coming back to UK would be beneficial. Gabriel could thrive being a shoot-first forward, the way he was used towards the end of last season. UK won’t need Gabriel to be an elite rebounder next season. He also will be able to guard people more his size, which won’t make him such a liability defensively. His draft stock will improve.

I doubt an extra year means Gabriel gets drafted, but if Josh Harrellson can get drafted than Gabriel can, too. But even if he’s not drafted he could put himself in a great position with a G-League team, similar to Derek Willis.

I know playing time will be a factor for Gabriel, but if one of Washington/Vanderbilt leaves then he should stay.

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Article written by TJ Walker

10 Comments for What I would do if I were P.J. Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt and Wenyen Gabriel



  1. IAmTheDanger
    10:48 pm May 29, 2018 Permalink

    I swear, you would think we have Michael Jordon, LeBron James and Anthony Davis trying to decide….this has been ridiculous!!



    • 8generationsblue
      9:33 am May 30, 2018 Permalink

      I agree! Losing mediocre players is what has caused One and Done fatigue! I don’t care if they return or not



    • Megan
      9:48 am May 30, 2018 Permalink

      If you don’t care, why are you reading these stories and making comments? And how can you not care and still call yourself a fan? I think a lot of this talk about the three is absurd, but I care. I love Wenyen. I think Vando is amazing. And I empathize with PJ after what he went through in our loss. I care more about them than I do about Jordan and LeBron, that’s for sure.



  2. FlatTopsAndBlockedShots
    12:44 am May 30, 2018 Permalink

    UK staff absolutely knows otherwise they would have offered transfer target Reid Travis. That being said at least two are coming back with one mulling his decision (P.J.).



  3. Megan
    9:43 am May 30, 2018 Permalink

    If Vanderbilt has another injury, how does that change anything? Wouldn’t he be in exactly the same position he is now? I think he should give himself the opportunity to show that he can stay healthy. If it doesn’t happen next year, he has the year after that. And the year after that. Nothing says he has to bet the house right now. Time is on his side.

    But we live in a world where people think you’re a failure if you can go pro after one, maybe two years of college. Nonsense. If it takes three or four years for Vanderbilt to achieve his dream, that’s how long it takes. He shouldn’t make a decision out of fear or doubt. And he shouldn’t try to sell himself to the NBA when his stock price is so low.



    • Megan
      9:49 am May 30, 2018 Permalink

      *can’t go pro (duh)



    • runningunnin.454
      9:55 am May 30, 2018 Permalink

      So true; this perception of failure if you’re not in the League after one year is puzzling…and depressing.
      Most students take 4 years to prepare for their career…some take 8-10 yrs.
      All three should return to learn their craft.



    • BBNBRIAN
      10:01 am May 30, 2018 Permalink

      If Vanderbilt returns and gets injured again, he will likely be considered “damaged goods”. He hasn’t played an entire season since his Junior year of high school. If his body can’t hold up to the rigors of high school and college ball then there is no way he will stay healthy in the NBA with their schedule. His best bet is to stay in the draft this year; because he seems rather fragile.