By LARRY VAUGHT
Wenyen Gabriel said he realized by the end of last season that he had to do more to be consistent factor on the court. He has studied the game more. He also says watching Malik Monk, De’Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo — who all came to UK with him — get drafted in the first round after last season was not discouraging. Instead, it motivated him.
“It was inspirational seeing people reach their dreams. In another year hopefully, I can reach my dreams,” Gabriel said. “Some people think coming in it is a race to get to the league (NBA). It’s a race. I just want to get there.”
Like sophomore teammate Sacha Killeya-Jones, Gabriel admits he lost confidence at times last year. He said part of it was negative thinking on his part. Another part was his body breaking down.
“I lost sleep when things started going south for me. I cared too much at times and it pushed me backwards. But looking back, all that makes you a better player,” Gabriel said. “I went through a lot of adversity, so that should make me a better player and better leader. Hopefully, my words will mean more.
“I used to think Cal was just picking on me. Now I realize he was just trying to get me better. Being a leader is a way I can spread my positive energy and knowledge I gained from last year. We have basically a brand new crop of players. But we did last year, too. That’s just how it is here.
“I know one thing about this year. I am going to have fun. I had fun last year, but I’m going to have more this year because I know more about what to expect and what to do. You won’t see my body breaking down like it did last year.”
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