UK BASKETBALL | Calipari's personal involvement in the recruiting process won over Wenyen Gabriel

10/02/2015 05:02 PM

LEXINGTON — The Kentucky Wildcats secured a big piece of their future this week by receiving a verbal commitment from five-star power forward Wenyen Gabriel.

The 2016 recruit is a native of Sudan, but has grown up in New England, where he’s risen to be the No. 10 overall player on’s rankings.

“Wenyen Gabriel is a tremendous talent, and he was the biggest riser over the month of July,”’s director of basketball recruiting Evan Daniels told KSTV on Friday. “At 6-10, he’s a versatile combo forward that can play both inside and out. This is a quality talent. “

The versatile 6-10, 205-pound forward averaged over 17 points and 8 rebounds a game on the adidas circuit this summer and will likely share frontcourt time with fellow top-100 UK commitment Sacha Killeya-Jones in Lexington next fall.

“They compliment each other pretty well,” Daniels said of Gabriel and Killeya-Jones playing together. “Wenyen is the better athlete, where Sacha [Killeya-Jones] is better around the block and from a scoring stand point.”

Gabriel picked the University of Kentucky over other offers from Duke, Maryland, UConn, and Providence, citing John Calipari’s personal involvement in his recruitment as the deciding factor in committing to UK.

“I don’t foresee him backing off that pledge,” Daniels said. “I think what won him over was the fact that John Calipari recruited him himself. Wenyen mentioned to me over the phone that he was taken aback by that. I think he’s a guy that has aspirations to head off to the NBA after a short stint in college, and I think that factored in as well.”

With Gabriel added to the fold, Kentucky jumps all the way to No. 2 in’s team recruiting rankings for 2016, behind only Duke at No. 1.

Click below to watch Evan Daniels complete comments on Gabriel’s commitment to Kentucky:


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