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No love affair between Wenyen Gabriel, John Calipari

Wenyen Gabriel (Jeff Houchin Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

During Wenyen Gabriel’s two years at Kentucky I certainly never sensed that he had a major problem with coach John Calipari.

I knew Gabriel didn’t get to play as much as he wanted — but that happens with a lot of players. He certainly showed at times he had big-time talent but at other times was not nearly physical enough.

Count me as one who was surprised when he left UK after his sophomore year for the NBA but it has seemed to work out okay because he’s now with the Portland Trail Blazers. He was also popular with UK fans when he left.

However, Gabriel’s honesty as made him a villain with many UK fans and that only intensified this weekend when Gabriel responded after coach John Calipari wished former UK center Bam Adebayo on social media. Adebayo, who now plays for Miami, and Gabriel were in the same UK recruiting class.

“Damn where was my bday wish in March?” Gabriel posted on social media with a laughing emoji.

Some former UK players could have done that and it might have been funny. But remember when UK was recruiting Jaden McDaniels of Washington and Gabriel basically told McDaniels in text messages that he would not recommend Kentucky because of false promises Calipari made to him.

“Don’t fall in love with his words let me tell you the real!” Gabriel texted along with much more biting criticism.

Gabriel insisted he tried to reach out to Calipari to apologize before the comments went public but didn’t get to talk to his former coach.

Kentucky fans let Gabriel know on social media that they did not appreciate his birthday comment to Calipari. Gabriel told fans on Instagram he “gave everything I had” when he played at UK but that he “didn’t like playing” for Calipari.

Calipari seldom has been criticized by former players. Most have embraced what he did for them. Does this make Gabriel wrong for feeling how he does? No. Does this mean Calipari did something wrong? No.
It just means this time there’s a former player not enamored with his former coach and Gabriel certainly is entitled to his opinion.

6 comments

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  1. You can’t please everyone. I’m surprised we haven’t seen more of this in the last 10 years

  2. I’m somewhat surprised he said this because in my eyes I thought he was doing the dirty work for the time being as a cat.

  3. Hate that he feels this way. Maybe being 6’10” and only wanting to shoot three’s got him in trouble with Cal. Not sure what this is about, but I really miss Wenyen. Wished he had stayed one more year and developed into a really solid NBA player.

  4. Coach loves guards and wings and lets them do pretty much what they want to do. Coach always keeps his bigs on a short leash. Our guards flourish while our bigs appear to struggle. Its no secret why bigs don’t want to come here anymore.

  5. No reason to use that type of language. It makes the person using it look small.

    Ashton and EJ with their attitude or those influencing them are better off trying to make the League, because they will not improve beyond their current level until they see the need to do so. I do not think they would improve much at UK, unless Cal could change their attitude.

    Nick on the other hand is a hard worker and just coming into his own! I would have loved to see him back for his senior year at UK. He will continue to improve at the next level and will be a excellent NBA player one day similar to Bam.

    Immanuel is much like Nick and I see continued improvement at the next level. there is always a need for a shooter who can hit his free throws. Nothing but good things ahead.

    I will agree that certain moments of selfishness hurt this team early in the year and most likely kept it from being an elite team. I would have loved to see their tournament run, but we will never know!

    As for the comments, Man up and use your name or shut up. It only makes you look small. It is very difficult to go through what these players do and be perfect. I will say they come very close each year.

    1. With you Ben

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