UK Recruiting

Next Cats: Rising 5-star forward visiting UK this weekend

Wenyen Gabriel ( photo)
Wenyen Gabriel ( photo)

One of the breakout stars of the summer basketball recruiting season will be on the University of Kentucky's campus this weekend for his official visit.

Wenyen Gabriel — a 6-foot-9 forward from Wilbraham & Monson Academy in Massachusetts — is scheduled to arrive in Lexington on Thursday night and spend the following couple of days with John Calipari and the UK coaching staff and players as he continues to ponder his college decision.

Gabriel recently narrowed his choices to UK, Duke, Maryland, UConn and Providence. Six months ago, Providence was the only school on that list that had extended a scholarship offer to the South Sudan native, who moved to the United States as a child and grew up in New Hampshire.

He entered the spring unranked by most of the national recruiting services. He's now universally considered a five-star prospect and is the No. 16 overall player in the 247Sports composite rankings for the class of 2016.

247Sports national analyst Jerry Meyer described Gabriel to the Herald-Leader recently as a "Luol Deng-type player," comparing him to the NBA veteran and former Duke star.

"Long and athletic ... that 6-9, smooth athlete," Meyer said. "He also has some explosion. And he's skilled. He's good with the basketball. He's an energy player — a rebounder and defender."

Calipari and UK assistant coach Kenny Payne were both in Massachusetts on Wednesday to visit Gabriel at his high school. Calipari also saw Gabriel on Sept. 10, the coach's final recruiting trip before being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame the following day.

Duke was seen as an early favorite for Gabriel, but Meyer recently changed his "Crystal Ball" prediction to favor Maryland.

Gabriel is one of the few high school players who Calipari has visited twice since the fall recruiting period began two weeks ago, so it's clear that UK won't be conceding his commitment any time soon.

Other road trips

Two other major UK recruiting targets for 2016 — De'Aaron Fox and Marques Bolden — will also be taking official visits this weekend.

Fox — a 6-4 point guard from Katy, Texas — is scheduled to be in Louisville for a trip hosted by Coach Rick Pitino.

U of L's five-star commitment V.J. King is also expected to be in town this weekend to aid the Cardinals' recruitment of Fox, who will visit UK for Big Blue Madness next month.

Bolden — a 6-10 center from DeSoto, Texas — will take an official visit to Kansas this weekend. UK hosted Bolden for an official visit earlier this month.