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John Calipari talks NBA stock of Wenyen Gabriel, who’s actually in one mock draft

Cal also revealed that Gabriel was “adamant” about going pro during the pre-draft process.

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NCAA Basketball: Virginia Tech at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Draft week is here, and for several Kentucky Wildcats, their professional dreams will be realized on Thursday.

We already know Kevin Knox and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are primed to be lottery picks, and it won’t be a surprise if one or both of them makes it into the top 10. Hamidou Diallo is another guy like to hear his name called at some point, likely in the early second-round range.

As for Jarred Vanderbilt, his situation is a little more tricky with his injury history. He has first-round talent, but it’s hard to warrant taking him there with just 14 college games under his belt.

Then there’s Wenyen Gabriel, who probably will go undrafted, but that doesn’t mean he won’t have an NBA career ahead of him.

On Monday, UK coach John Calipari held a teleconference to discuss this year’s crop of NBA Cats and what range it looks like they could go Thursday.

When it came to Gabriel, Cal was adamant that there’s a place for the sophomore forward in today’s NBA.

“My hope is he goes somewhere in the second round,” said Cal of Gabriel. “He may not. You know what, either way, he’s probably going to have to go through the G-League and work his way, figure out ‘I’ve gotta get stronger’ and all those kind of things.

Cal also revealed that Gabriel was “adamant” about going pro during the pre-draft process.

“He wanted to go for it, and he was adamant. ‘I’ve gotta do this, Coach.’ So at that point, my shift is how do I help him? What teams are you working out for? Who can I call? I’ll give you a feel for what they’re saying.”

For what it’s worth, The Athletic actually has Gabriel sneaking into the end of the second round of Thursday’s draft.

58. Denver Nuggets: Wenyen Gabriel, forward, 21, 6-9, 205, Kentucky

“Wenyen’s game is where the league continues to trend towards,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said in a statement. “He’s a position-less big man who can shoot, guard multiple positions and is willing to do what it takes to win.”

In a league where stretch fours are always given a chance, Gabriel will get one at some point.

Listening to Cal, it shouldn’t be a big surprise if Gabriel does actually hear his name called Thursday.

“I think in an NBA environment, within a year, you would see someone who is 6’10”, physically able to battle, and can really shoot it,” said Cal. “Right now, the physical part is a little tougher for him but again, I think if someone could get him in that late second, that’s a steal in my mind.”

I still doubt Gabriel hears his name called Thursday, but he shouldn’t have any trouble getting an invite to an NBA team’s summer league squad. It certainly help that he’s gotten a lot of workouts with teams ahead of the draft, including the Lakers, Cavaliers, Hornets and Raptors.