The Kentucky Wildcats are still waiting to hear what Wenyen Gabriel and Jarred Vanderbilt will do for their future.
Gabriel remains undecided on whether to go pro or return for his junior year at UK. It’s unlikely he’d be selected for the NBA Draft if he declared, but he’d likely get a chance to play with a team in the summer league, then fight for a roster spot in training camp.
Or, Gabriel could pursue a career overseas and make a good chunk of money right away to support his family, which has had a rough upbringing. No one can fault Gabriel if he wants to support them now. It helps that he just enjoyed a breakout season that saw him become a major factor as UK went 9-2 to end the season.
Part of why Gabriel had a strong finish to the season was due to Vanderbilt being injured. Prior to what was reported to be an ankle sprain leading into the SEC Tournament, Vanderbilt was rising up NBA Draft boards enough that he was projected as a late first/early second-round pick.
But then his latest injury happened, and it all but nuked any NBA stock he had. Even so, Vanderbilt, along with Gabriel, is strongly considering a jump to the pros.
SEC Country’s Kyle Tucker just did an update on the draft decisions of Gabriel, Vanderbilt and PJ Washington, the latter of which is already testing the waters.
And it wasn’t exactly promising for UK.
While his stock is lower than the other two (he isn’t even listed in ESPN’s top 100 prospects for the 60-pick NBA draft), Gabriel apparently has the same mindset as 5-star Kentucky freshmen PJ Washington and Jarred Vanderbilt: “All three want to go,” one source said, “but can they?”
Of those three, one source close to the program predicts (without specifying) that two return to school and one leaves.
However, Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herald-Leader spoke with Gabriel’s brother, and he says a return to UK seems likely since he wants to be a first-round pick.
If projected as a first-round pick, Gabriel would probably enter the draft, his brother said. If not projected as a first-round pick, he would return to UK. A decision is likely by the middle of next week, Komot Gabriel said.
So, based on Tipton’s report, it’s likely that UK will get Gabriel back, because simply put, there’s no chance he’ll be a first-round pick.
But then based on Tucker’s report, that means there’s a decent chance UK loses Washington or Vanderbilt then.
Of the these three, Washington is the one getting the most NBA buzz, as ESPN’s latest draft rankings have him ranked 49th. That means if he has a good combine and enough guys ranked ahead of him return to school, then he can get around that top-35 range where draftees tend to get guaranteed contracts.
And for what this is worth, 247 Sports’ Andrew Slater seems to think there’s a decent chance two players leave for the pros.
Might take the odds on 2 going https://t.co/GUemlAPPvy— Andrew Slater (@Andrew__Slater) April 11, 2018
One thing is for sure: We’ll be waiting for several more weeks before final decisions by all three players have been made.
May 30th is the NCAA-mandated deadline to withdraw from the NBA Draft, and it sounds like UK won’t know its complete roster outlook until then.