NBA Player Profile: Wenyen Gabriel


Sophomore forward Wenyen Gabriel speaks to the media during the Selection Show on Sunday, March 11, 2018 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky will play Davidson in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday in Boise, Idaho. Photo by Hunter Mitchell.

Erika Bonner

NBA Player Profile: Wenyen Gabriel

Wenyen Gabriel, who played two seasons at Kentucky, is a 6’9, 205-pound forward that proved to be an above-average three-point shooter for Kentucky, and an exciting one at that. He finished second in the team in made three-pointers (behind Kevin Knox) and averaged 6.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.

NBA Comparison

Gabriel’s game most closely resembles that of Kentucky great Tayshaun Prince. Gabriel is a force on the defensive end when he engages, and he has the ability to get rebounds, but his skinny frame doesn’t let him bully defenders. His hustle is never in question, like Prince, and his three-point shot is good for his size, but not great. Gabriel has some work to do before he plays at the level of Prince, but their play styles are very similar.

One of Gabriel’s most memorable performances was against Alabama in the SEC tournament, when he tied his career-high 23 points on seven-of-seven three pointers.

Gabriel declared for the NBA without an agent in April and, coming as a shock to some, decided to keep his name in the draft in late May.

Teams Gabriel has worked out for: Toronto Raptors, Memphis Grizzlies, Philadelphia 76ers, Charlotte Hornets, Los Angeles Lakers, Utah Jazz, Sacramento Kings, Oklahoma City Thunder, Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets.

Most mock drafts don’t have Gabriel getting picked, but Coach Calipari is sure there’s a spot somewhere for him in today’s NBA.

“My hope is he goes somewhere in the second round, he may not. Either way he’s probably going to have to go through that G-League and work his way and figure out – I got to get stronger and all those kind of things,” said Calipari.

Calipari says that a lot of the teams Gabriel worked out for, who are late in the first round, really liked him—the reason being he’s 6-10 and can shoot.

That’s kind of where the league is going. Now physically, he’s got to get stronger and I think in an NBA environment, I think within a year, he would see someone that’s 6-10, physically able to battle and can really shoot it. Right now the physical part is a little tougher for him but again, if someone can get him in that late second that’s a steal in my mind,” said Calipari.

UPDATE – Post-Draft

Wenyen Gabriel wasn’t drafted by an NBA team, but his social media accounts allude to a spot on the Summer League roster for the Sacramento Kings. If that is the case, he’d line up next to former teammate De’Aaron Fox for the summer tournament, where he’ll try to play his way onto an NBA roster.