CRAWFORD | After hot finish, Kentucky's Gabriel will test the NBA Draft process
Wenyen Gabriel averaged 10 points and 5.5 rebounds a game over his final eight games for Kentucky as a sophomore, and will test the NBA Draft waters, though he won't hire an agent.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Sophomore forward Wenyen Gabriel is the latest University of Kentucky player to declare for the NBA Draft, but he’ll keep his options open.
Gabriel said in a Twitter post today that, “My dream has always been to play professionally,” and noted that he wants to see where he stands in the eyes of the league’s teams.
He’s the fifth underclassmen from the 2017-18 Kentucky team to declare for the draft. Freshmen Hamidou Diallo, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Kevin Knox have declared and hired agents. P.J. Washington has declared but not hired an agent.
It makes for a lot of moving parts, but what is good about this whole process is that it is being done in an orderly fashion. Players are in frequent consultation with head coach John Calipari. Announcements are done in concert with university staff. There are no surprises.
"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,” Gabriel said. “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."
Calipari endorsed Gabriel’s decision, though he said he’d like to have him back in Lexington.
“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," 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."
Gabriel averaged 6.8 points and 4.4 rebounds on the season, and his 42 three-pointers were second-most on the team. But he hit his stride late in the season, averaging nearly 10 points and 5.5 rebounds over the season’s final eight games, and he became the team’s top three-point threat, going an SEC Tournament-record 7-for-7 from three-point range in a win over Alabama.
In the NCAA Tournament, he had 16 points and 12 rebounds in a win over Buffalo.
The Sudan native will have until May 30 to make a final decision on whether to remain in the NBA Draft or return to Kentucky for a junior season.
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