Wenyen Gabriel Talks Recruiting

No high major prospect in the country has seen his stock rise more than Wilbraham (MA) forward Wenyen Gabriel. After a huge week in Las Vegas, the 6-foot-9 prospect picked up offers from several of the country’s top programs. Which ones are standing out? We spoke with Gabriel to get the scoop.

How has all the traveling been going?

Wenyen Gabriel: Yeah I’m definitely tired, but I’m almost done though. I’m going to Adidas Nations in California on Wednesday.

Were you expecting to have this kind of summer explosion in relation to your recruiting stock?

I knew it was always possible. Early in the AAU season I was struggling a bit with my touch, but I was doing the same things, it’s just that my shot wasn’t falling. Once my shot started falling I started getting more attention and it just kinda blew up from there.

As you went into the summer recruiting period, what were your expectations?

I’m not really sure, I was just trying to play the best that I could. I already had some good schools on me like Connecticut, Maryland and Virginia. So there were a lot of schools recruiting me already. When the new ones came around I just continued to focus on trying to play the best that I can.

For people who haven’t seen you play, how would you describe your overall game?

Defensively I feel like I can guard a lot of different positions. If a guard comes onto me I let them think they have a mismatch and then I will guard them and steal the ball. Then with the bigs they may say that because I’m skinny, I’m therefore weak. So I just play them hard.

Defensively I can block shots and rebound. Offensively, during the school season, I learned a lot with the inside game since I have a lot of height but also being able to expand my perimeter game during the season. It started developing early on and I just kept playing well during the season.

Position in college—what do you think is a potential good fit?

I’m hoping to be a three. That’s how I see myself but for the professional level, I just want to play that way.

Do you have a current measurement on your height and weight and wingspan from this summer?

I don’t have my wingspan, but I’m 6-foot-10 and 195 pounds.

You mentioned strength earlier, what is your fall workout plan going to consist of?

I haven’t figured out what we’re going to be doing, but I’m sure we’ll be working on different things including ball-handling. Before the summer I would work out three times a day. Early in the morning I would do cardio, then later on I would do ball-handling. I tried to start off the day with ball-handling and then shoot later on.

Did you have a growth spurt recently?

Since last year, well, I’ve been growing two inches a year. For Freshman year I was 6’1 and then when I started my sophomore year I shot up to around 6’5, then my junior year I was up to 6’7 and then I repeated my junior year, went to prep school and then that whole summer I was 6’8 and now I’m 6’10.

Talk with me how your game and skills have evolved from being a 6’1 guard to what you are now—how has your game and skills evolved during that growth process?

I’ve always felt like that starting off as a guard, I had good touch and feel for the ball on the perimeter and then as I got taller, there were points where I felt like I was kinda forced to playing in the post because I was taller so I would go down there, score inside and I would do different things that a post player can do inside. I feel like I can increase my versatility and now that I’m 6’10, I feel like I can play almost any position.

Guys your size and athletic ability in college are often asked by the college program to play inside and outside some at the four spot, how do you feel about that potential role if asked?

It depends where I’m at, and what I’m really being asked to do. Hopefully they have my best interests in mind. My dream is to be a pro, and that’s what I’m looking to do. I would like to play on the perimeter, more of a wing forward role. We’re really not sure right now with all the new schools coming in, we haven’t had time to think about that much yet.

Speaking of the new interest that’s come your way—can you elaborate on the approach that you and your family is taking to the new programs coming into your recruitment?

Just taking my time. Right now I’m just trying to have fun and finish out my final run and go through Adidas Nations and I got one more game in August. Then we’re going to take our time, weigh our options and try to get to know some people better.

Before the explosion of interest this summer—were there any schools you were really hoping to hear from?

No, not particularly.

How did you and your family react to all the new schools that entered your recruiting picture?

It was exciting, but I’m just trying to stay focused on my AAU season and trying to win. Now that it’s almost over, it still hasn’t really hit me yet, so I’m just trying to take my time and think through it.

Did you ever imagine you would be hearing from Kansas and Kentucky and Duke and those kind of programs?

I never really thought about it, and didn’t think it was going to happen. It’s exciting but I still have to focus and take my time and figure it out and what’s best for me. Honestly I have to do research on the schools that just came in. I want to see what their style of play is, look at what players they are recruiting versus what players are going to be there now, stuff like that. Also how I would play, how they would help me become a pro, how’s my relationship with the coach, all of that goes into the best fit for me.

Do you have aspirations to maybe go pro after a year of college?

I don’t have a timeframe on that.

Let’s switch gears to the Duke interest if I may, to start, what are your early impressions of them?

It’s the same as other new schools, really. It’s exciting though, especially since me and some family have grown up as Duke fans, but I don’t think that will make me want to go there anymore than other schools.

How long have you and your family been watching them?

Since I was in high school. The family likes to watch them, and my sister is a big fan too, it’s just fun to watch them and I like the way they play.

When you and your family got on the phone with the Duke staff, what was covered?

We just talked about how excited they were to watch me and I was excited to talk with them as well, but I still have to look through my other options as well.

Did they mention how they found out about you?

Coach K just said they saw me at the Adidas All American Camp. That’s where they saw me and they thought I played well there and they wanted to see me some more. They said I played really well in Vegas too and he said they really wanted to offer me earlier, but they wanted to make it more special so they waited until after the period ended and then they talked to me on the phone about it. I was just being patient and waiting for them to call. Coach K gave me the offer—he just told me how excited he was about me and my game and he was telling me all the things that he thought were really good about me and that he loved my potential.

What kind of things did Coach K mention that he liked about your game?

He liked my length, the way I could shoot the ball, the way I could defend. He talked about all my versatility and the way I play so hard. The conversation started off with him saying we want to give you a scholarship offer to Duke.

With the offers coming in later from programs like Kentucky, Kansas, Duke and others relative to when others have offered you more earlier—how do you feel about that?

I just feel like they started to realize my talent a little bit later. It’s not a big deal.

From a playing style for programs who utilize players like you—are there any programs that you feel do a good job with players like you and the position you want to play?

There’s a lot of programs who do a good job with players like me, that’s obviously going to be a big factor in my ultimate decision.

What are the next steps for you and your family with visit planning?

Yeah once I get back from Adidas Nations I will probably take a week off and we’ll sit down and think about it.

You mentioned wanting to get a sense of recruiting plans for your class with these programs, how much have you already looked into that on your own or discussed that with programs?

Yeah I’ve taken a little look but obviously I need to take more of a look with the schools that just came in and figure out where they are.

For the programs you have already looked into their recruiting efforts in your class—do you have any thoughts on what you have learned so far with that?

No, not yet. It’s still early.

Do you and your family feel like you need to take a lot of unofficial visits before you figure out which programs you will visit officially?

We really have looked at taking un-officials to more of the local schools, but I don’t think we’ll be taking more any un-officials—we’ll be planning official visits.

Do you see yourself as a guy who will take all five officials?

Hopefully we’ll plan five and then we’ll see how many I have to end up taking.

Is it a big deal to you in terms of what schools you visit first—will that signify anything?

No, not necessarily, I don’t think it’ll be a priority thing which school I visit first. I’m going to be at school, so we’re going to have to see what the dates are and figure things out from over time. I’m obviously going to have to talk with my high school coach so I can figure out how I’m going to do certain things and just see how the dates set up well.

Are there any schools right now that’s it kinda a no-brainer that they will end up hosting you for an official visit?

I don’t know yet.

From a timeframe perspective, are you thinking early period or the Spring?

I’m not sure, it depends on how the visits go.

The Devils Den Top Stories