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Wenyen Gabriel ready to be next elite defender for Kentucky Wildcats

Gabriel could be the next DeAndre Liggins/Michael Kidd-Gilchrist-type defender for UK Basketball.

The Kentucky Wildcats finished with the No. 1 recruiting class in 2016, but while guys like Malik Monk, De'Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo get most of the attention, don't forget about Wenyen Gabriel.

Last year, Gabriel was one of the highest-rising college prospects over the summer, as he rose up the rankings with a great showing in AAU events this summer. That led to Gabriel going from relative unknown when the summer began to being a household name by the time it ended, all while scoring scholarship offers from Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and other big-time programs.

The Blue Devils were really hard after Gabriel, but John Calipari and his staff were able to reel in the talented forward. Now, Gabriel is getting set for the upcoming college hoops season for what's going to be a loaded UK team. In fact, it's so deep that Gabriel is going to find it hard to crack even the top six of the rotation.

But don't expect Gabriel to ride the bench either. He's too talented on both sides of the court to not get significant minutes as a freshman. A big reason why is because of the impact he'll make defensively.

"I definitely take pride in it," Gabriel told CoachCal.com. "That’s how I earn my way onto the court. I kind of feel like that’s part of my identity when I’m on the court, when I play."

Gabriel possesses a rare blend of size and overall build like a forward, but also has the speed and athleticism of a guard that will allow him to defend all five positions for stretches in college, so much so that John Calipari calls Gabriel a "wing-guard."

"If they can’t score on you it means you’re not really going to lose that game," Gabriel said.

It also helps that he has the kind of motor to make him the next DeAndre Liggins/Michael Kidd-Gilchrist-type defender.

"My high motor is what they speak about, my length, my athleticism," Gabriel said. "Just being able to keep going all the time."

Be sure to reach the full CoachCal.com profile on Gabriel.