Wilbraham & Monson Academy's Wenyen Gabriel '16, one of the most sought-after high school boys' basketball recruits in the Class of 2016, verbally committed to the University of Kentucky Oct. 1.
Accompanied by WMA Coach Mike Mannix, Wenyen made his announcement at ESPN in Bristol, Conn.
"It's been like a dream, and hectic," said Wenyen, a 6-foot, 10-inch, 195-pound forward. "Going into the summer, I didn't know what to expect. Having it go this way is great. I learned a lot from a whole lot of people during the recruiting process. It's done a lot for me but it's taken a lot of time, but it's obviously worth it in the end. I feel confident in my decision. At times it got overwhelming and I had to go away from my phone, but I'm happy where I'm at right now."
Wenyen, the #23rd ranked player in the senior class by ESPN, had narrowed his choices to Kentucky, Duke, Maryland, Connecticut and Providence before selecting the long-time college basketball giant and its Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame coach, John Calipari.
"I really likes Cal's vision for me and I like how he recruited me," Wenyen explained. "He took my recruitment into his own hands. It made me feel special how he recruited me. Also, I like how his vision . . . me going to Kentucky, I don't have to be a certain type of player someone wants me to be. I can be who I am and play how I play: play hard, block shots, defend and not get locked into a position."
"I think he made a great choice," Coach Mannix added. "With all five schools that were involved late, no matter what he decided he was going to pick a great situation. When it came down to making his choice, he wanted to go to a place where his vision and goals gelled with the head coach, and I think that's what he saw in Coach Calipari. I think in the end Wenyen went with his heart. Kentucky's a smart choice."
Wenyen said he appreciated the support and privacy the WMA administration, faculty and students gave him during the recruiting process, and he's ready to move forward and focus on the Academy's Boys' Basketball season.
"Tomorrow is a fresh start to the basketball season," said Wenyen, an honor roll student. "It's a new chapter. It's a whole new team this year. We have a lot of different players from last year. I'm ready to start a special thing this year."