Maryland has been showing interest in Wilbraham & Monson Academy (Wilbraham, Mass.) power forward Wenyen Gabriel for a few months now, and, as expected, Terps head coach Mark Turgeon finally extended the firm offer April 28. Turgeon watched the 6-foot-9, 195-pounder during the live evaluation period in Indianapolis, Ind., April 24, Gabriel impressing on both ends of the floor.
“I was really excited to get the offer from Maryland,” said Gabriel, who also added a Uconn verbal April 28, to go along with previous scholarships from Boston College and Providence. “I’ve been working to get that one for awhile now. I know Coach Bino [Ranson] had watched me play [during the fist live period April 14-16], but this was the first time this year Coach Turgeon had seen me.
“He was at my second game, and I played really good defense, showed my athleticism and was able to shoot the ball well too. I was guarding a guy who is ranked like No. 34 in the country for forwards, and I did a really good job on him. He didn’t score one point on me, and I think that’s how I caught [Turgeon’s] eye.”
Gabriel, who plays for renowned Mass Rivals, ended up averaging around 14 points, seven rebounds and a couple blocks during the Indy tournament. Two days after its conclusion, Gabriel heard from his coaches that Turgeon and Maryland wanted to offer.
“Coach Turgeon said I have room to grow with me game, and he said I’m thin right now, but I have a lot of potential,” Gabriel said. “He said they one of the best weight programs in the country, and he’d love to get me into that. But he likes how I can guard at all three levels – big men, forward and guards. He was really impressed how I could step out and use my length to defend guards. Then he really liked my versatility on the offensive end and how I showed touch shooting the ball. So that was all really good to hear and I was honored.”
Gabriel said he’s spoken to Turgeon “a few times,” but his main Terps connection has been assistant Bino Ranson. Ranson, of course, attended college in New Hampshire, which is where the Wilbraham & Monson product is from, and the two have a rapport that dates back to last spring.
“Coach Bino and I really already have a good connection. He saw me play last year when I really wasn’t that good because it was my first time playing against [top] competition, but he still stayed with me,” Gabriel said. “He came up to my school twice and just really showed a lot of interest. He said Maryland would be a great fit for me and how he’d been trying to get Coach Turgeon to watch me play for awhile. He kept pushing for an offer. [Ranson] believed in me from the start, and that really meant a lot.”
Gabriel doesn’t know a ton about Maryland yet, but he did watch the Terps several times on TV last season. He’s planning his first visit to College Park, Md., for later this summer.
“I think Maryland is a great program all around. I love the way they play,” Gabriel said. “They were ranked like 10th in the country and they’re one of the top programs out there right now. They got a huge pickup in Diamond Stone and should be dominant going forward. I’m really excited about Maryland and excited to visit.”
Although Gabriel’s intrigued by the Terps, he isn’t claiming any early favorites. He said he’s “wide open” in his recruitment and is taking the process slowly.
“Right now there’s a lot of programs coming at me, and I have to take some visits,” Gabriel said. “The UConn offer I got was big too. That’s a great program and I want to get up there to see them. Providence and B.C., I’ve been to both of those schools and they’ve been on me for awhile now. I like both of those programs.
“I think Georgia Tech is close to offering, Vanderbilt could be offering, and I know Harvard and a bunch of the Ivies are about to offer. So I want to see what all comes in.”
The plan right now is to see as many schools as possible this summer and fall, and then have an idea where he wants to go by November.
“I really want to be able to sign by the early period,” Gabriel said. “I don’t want to drag things out and go through the whole [recruiting process]. I’m hoping to know where I’m going before the winter.”
Gabriel Thrilled With Terps Offer
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