How’s the school year and recruiting process been going for you? Does the recruiting process still feel as crazy as it did the last time we spoke?
Wenyen Gabriel: No, it’s not crazy at all. When I cut the list down it got pretty easy.
What was the evaluation process like as you figured out who would be in your final five?
First, and most importantly, was seeing just how interested the school was in me in terms of the head coach and all that. I’d say all the schools on my list I feel good about with that and that they are interested in me. When it came down to cutting down my list I cut it down to schools that I could look at and consider myself playing there on the wing at that school and how interested they were in me. That’s what it come down to, was how interested they were in me and my chances of playing on the perimeter there.
Those two criteria you just mentioned—was that more what you were looking at, or were there different things that either you or your family were also paying attention to?
No I think that was pretty much it with the top five. There were other schools that were really good who were looking at me like Notre Dame and Texas and others, they showed a lot of interest but I just didn’t see myself fitting in at their schools. I got to a top five that by basically seeing that I could be comfortable at those schools.
From an interest perspective with the coaches—have you noticed a huge difference with the coaches in terms of how much they communicate with you and your family and what they each say to you?
They all say, well, they all have different ideas for me which is pretty interesting. All of these schools in my top five are pretty different with being in different conferences and such. All of these schools have shown me really strong interest with their head coaches, I just had to cut it down first with who was showing me the most interest and then after that based on how I saw myself fitting in there.
With the head coaches at the programs on your list, are you talking with any of them more frequently than the others?
It’s the same amount with each head coach. I wouldn’t say anybody is talking with me more.
How much would you say you are reaching out on your own to communicate with the coaches versus just responding to their contact efforts with you?
I don’t really reach out to them like that. I just wait to respond to them.
You mentioned earlier that each coach has a “different idea” for you as a player in their program—how is it different with what you have heard?
They can’t all say the same thing because they have different rosters and they can’t promise me the same things. It’s based on what they can do is what they are telling me. They are trying to make my vision their vision as well. They are telling me what their responses are to the type of game I want to play. With each situation its all different, and that’s a good thing.
Let’s look at Duke and Kentucky. When you talk with Coach K and Coach Calipari and they discuss with you how they see you fitting in if you were to go to either place, are there any examples you can share of what they have said along those lines?
I’d probably have to wait until after my in-home visits to have a better sense with that. I’ve got in-home visits coming up on Wednesday and it’ll be good to hear them further bring out their plan for me from what we understand right now.
As you build a relationship with these coaches, are there certain questions you are asking of all the coaches that are the same?
I haven’t been asking too many questions, I’ve been wanting to see what they have had to say first. I’ll probably ask them more questions during the in-home visits. It’s better to ask those questions in-person I think.
What’s the in-home visit order looking like for you this week?
I’m going to go home on Wednesday and I have 3 schools coming that day and then I’m going to go back to school on Thursday and I have 2 schools coming that day. The two on Thursday are Connecticut and Kentucky. They actually wanted to come in on Wednesday but I didn’t want to have five visits on the same day. So I just wanted them to come the next day and they were cool.
Then it’s going to be Duke, Maryland and Providence for the Wednesday visits. I’m going to have one in the morning, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. I don’t remember the exact order of who is coming when that day but I know it’s lined up.
How are you and your family feeling about Duke, Maryland and Providence coming into your home for the visit ?
Yeah it’s good, it’ll be good to talk to them face-to-face and see what they have to share. It enables you to have a better connection with them when you can visit with them face to face. We’ve already had the opportunity to meet with the local schools face to face before with me and my family, but we haven’t had a chance yet to do that with Kentucky, Duke and Maryland.
So with Kentucky and UConn visiting you at your school, are your family members joining you for that?
My oldest brother will be. He’s helping me with my recruitment. We felt like he would be a good fit to help with my recruitment. No one has really told me where I should go or anything like that. We’re going to sit down and talk about what kind of questions to ask during the in-person visits.
From what you have indicated it seems like these in-home visits and the at school visits are going to play a fairly big role in your recruiting process, is that a good read?
Yeah I definitely agree with that. It’s an opportunity for me to see where I’m at with all of these schools. After the in-home visits I’m going to be starting with my official visits after that and hopefully by the end of that I’ll know where I want to go.
With what you are potentially going to hear during the in-home visits, is there the potential to hear anything in those visits that will change what your thought process is towards the official visits that are lined up?
I don’t know, it does depend on how these visits go with the in-home visits. After the in-home visits I should have an idea about where I want to go. I feel like I’m really going to like all my official visits, so this is just as important to see how the in-homes go.
Would you consider the official visits then to be of less importance to your decision-making process when compared to the in-home visits?
I think these in-home visits are more important to the decision. I want to make the decision more based on how I can fit in and what the situation as opposed to how much I like the official visit.
Does that mean you are open to not taking all five official visits?
Yeah I feel like I’m open to the idea, but I don’t think it’ll be any less likely that I won’t go to any of the schools if I don’t take an official visit there. If I decided to take like two visits, I wouldn’t rule out committing to a school I hadn’t visited yet.
That’s an interesting thought process. Is there any reason for it?
I don’t know what makes me have that thought process to be honest, it just feels like the right way to do it. I just don’t think the official visits should be why I go somewhere.
Based on your conversations so far with the coaches, are there any in your communication with them that are standing out for things they have said to you?
No, I have to figure that out during the in-home visits to see how I feel about them.
Let’s switch gears to Duke, what have they been emphasizing to you and your family in their communication?
They just tell me that I fit really well in their program and they are excited about me as a player and they have big plans for me. They haven’t really revealed the whole situation with me yet, so that’s why the in-home visit is so important for me.
What have they indicated so far about how you specifically fit in if you were to go to Duke?
Yeah they have told me that I shouldn’t be worried about their guys. That they have Jayson Tatum and that people think that Harry Giles is going there. They are still showing a really high level of interest in me and they have talked with me that they have a real plan for me.
How do you feel about what they have shared so far with you in terms of their recruiting efforts in your class and their vision for you?
I’m just curious. I want to know what their plans are. I didn’t know if I would have a role at first when I looked at it, but they have been re-assuring me that I would and I just want to hear more from them.
A player of your caliber will likely have the opportunity to make an early decision to go pro. Have you and your family thought through yet what you think is a good amount of time for you to spend in college before thinking about going pro?
No this all came up on me pretty quick, this wasn’t even in the conversation awhile ago. I’m not really thinking about that right now, I’m just focused on what school is the best fit for me and how I fit in.
Have you taken a close look at the recruiting efforts in your class from the other schools outside of Duke in your top five?
Yeah I’ve looked at it pretty well. Most of the things are kinda obvious with who they are recruiting.
When you look at the programs recruiting efforts for your class and their potential depth charts—does anybody in your estimation present a more favorable situation for you?
No, not yet.
How likely do you think it is that you are leaning towards signing in the November early signing period?
It’s possible. I don’t know, I know this class has a lot of talent in it, so there’s probably going to be some guys that sign late. I don’t know which one would be the better decision, I think it’ll depend on how I feel after we’re done and it depends on if I feel comfortable in November, then I’ll do it and if I don’t feel comfortable, I’ll wait it out.
How important is it for you to see what happens with the decisions of other high level guys in your class before you make your decision?
I’m not really worried about that.