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Wenyen Gabriel to Kentucky: Wildcats Land 5-Star PF Prospect

Joe Pantorno@@JoePantornoFeatured ColumnistOctober 1, 2015

247Sports

Kentucky landed one of the best power forwards in the 2016 recruiting class when Wenyen Gabriel announced Thursday that he would be playing for the school.

ESPN.com's Adam Finkelstein was among the first to report that head coach John Calipari and the Wildcats managed to score yet another major coup.

At 6'9", 195 pounds, Gabriel, who attends Wilbraham & Monson Academy, is the top prospect coming out of Massachusetts, the fourth-ranked power forward in his class and the 16th-ranked player nationally, according to 247Sports

Gabriel chose Kentucky over Duke, Maryland, Connecticut and Providence, with the Blue Devils coming closest to stealing him away from Coach Cal, per Finkelstein.

"I felt a connection to all the coaches in my final five, but ultimately it came down to Duke and Kentucky," Gabriel said, "and I just felt like I couldn't go wrong either way."

Though slender for a power forward, he brings a dominant game around the rim. He isn't afraid to put the ball on the floor and run with it, either, exhibiting nice ball-handling skills.

Rounding out his game is a solid jumper that helps draw defenses away from the rim. That's where his ball-handling comes in handy. 

RI Affiliated took a look at his play during the summer:

It's been a meteoric rise since June 2014 for Gabriel, as Ricky O'Donnell of SB Nation explained:

In June of last year, Gabriel did not have a single D1 scholarship offer. ... Fortunately for Gabriel, he had one thing on his side: he was still growing. Gabriel reportedly shot four inches over the last few years, growing to a legit 6'9". After spending his entire basketball life on the perimeter, he now had the size of a power forward. His newfound size and the skill he's always possessed finally coalesced this summer on the grassroots circuit. Suddenly, Gabriel is the fastest-rising prospect in the country.

He was visiting schools as early as September 2014, taking official visits to Kentucky, Providence, Connecticut and Duke, according to 247Sports.

He has time to bulk up before joining Kentucky, and if he does, he'll be a force to be reckoned with offensively.

Calipari has a penchant for helping his recruits thrive immediately and go on to the NBA shortly thereafter, so there is little doubt that Gabriel is in an ideal landing spot.

If he can make the transition to the college game like recent Kentucky big men such as Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein have in the past, then Gabriel will undoubtedly be a hot NBA prospect in the coming years.

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