As the old adage goes, “the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.” On the recruiting trail in recent years, the Kentucky Wildcats have been one of the richest programs in the NCAA, if not the richest.
With the plethora of high-calibre talents coming to Lexington, KY to be a part of Big Blue Nation, recruits choosing to play at Kentucky should come as little to no surprise. In the class of 2015, the Wildcats reloaded with the likes of Skal Labissiere, Jamal Murray, and Isaiah Briscoe, among others, bringing in yet another top-tier group of freshmen.
With recruiting done for the 2015-16 season, teams have now turned their attention to the recruiting class of 2016, and Kentucky is no different. Up until Thursday, their recruiting class isn’t as strong as it has been in recent years. Only one recruit listed in the ESPN Top 100 had committed to Kentucky, and that was Sacha Killeya-Jones (ranked 31st).
All it takes is for one highly-coveted recruit to choose your school, and your fortunes could change drastically. For the Kentucky Wildcats, that recruit may very well have come on Thursday afternoon.
Five-star power forward Wenyen Gabriel committed to John Calipari, Big Blue Nation, and everything else that comes with the Kentucky Wildcats.
The native of Manchester, New Hampshire played his high school basketball at the Wilbraham & Monson Academy. The 6’9”, 210-pound power forward was one of the top recruits in the class of 2016, and one of the most coveted.
Over the course of his high school career, Gabriel continued to grow, even as an upperclassmen, and is exceptionally long. He has a strong skill set when facing the basket, and has a respectable shooting range for a big man, as he can step out to the arc and hit jumpers. He’s continually developed into a strong rebounder, weak-side shot blocker, and has become a viable scoring threat inside the paint.
Weighing in at 210 pounds, there have been questions around his durability, and whether or not he can handle the more physical style of game that the NCAA will bring forth. Playing at Kentucky, he will match up against some of the nation’s premier big men in the SEC, so if he can add some strength and muscle, it will only help to improve his game in the short-run as well as the long-run.
The potential is sky-high for Gabriel, as he has an incredible amount of upside. Calipari has a knack for attracting the top recruits and developing them into NBA-ready players, and Gabriel fits right into his wheelhouse.
Gabriel opted for Kentucky over the likes of Duke, Connecticut, Maryland, and Providence.
Kentucky fans are hoping that the addition of Gabriel will help draw other top recruits to Lexington, starting with Miles Bridges. The Flint, MI native is set to make his decision on Saturday, and Kentucky is one of his final three teams, along with Michigan State and Indiana.