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NH's Gabriel declaring for NBA draft

Lexington Herald-Leader

April 18. 2018 10:34PM

Kentucky Wildcats forward Wenyen Gabriel (right) drives against Texas A&M Aggies center Tyler Davis (34) during the first half at Reed Arena. Mandatory (C. Morgan Engel-USA TODAY Sports)

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Wenyen Gabriel, of Manchester, N.H., joined four University of Kentucky players in announcing Wednesday his intention of entering his name in this year’s NBA draft. Like PJ Washington, he said he would not hire an agent, thus leaving open the option of returning to play for Kentucky next season.

Gabriel, who starred at Trinity High, said he made the decision after speaking with UK coach John Calipari.

“My dream has always been to play professionally,” Gabriel said in a news release. “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. 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.”

Earlier, Hamidou Diallo, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Kevin Knox announced that they would enter the draft and hire an agent.

Gabriel is not projected as a first-round pick in several mock drafts.

“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 in a news release. “The great part about this process is Wenyen will know first hand 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 finished last season on a high note. Over the final eight games, he averaged 9.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.1 3-point baskets.

Gabriel became an instant icon in the Southeastern Conference Tournament semifinals when he shot 7-for-7 from 3-point range in a 23-point performance against Alabama.

That set UK school records and SEC Tournament records for most 3-pointers made without a miss.

For the season, Gabriel averaged 6.8 points and 5.4 rebounds. He made 42 3-point shots, which was the second most on the team. He made 39.6 percent of his 3-point shots.

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