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Once a Wildcat, Always a Wildcat? Woo weighs in on Wenyen

By Dr. John Huang

Once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat. As card-carrying members of BBN, we hear that phrase all the time. But is it really true?

Just the other day, former Wildcat Wenyen Gabriel put that saying to the test. Gabriel, now a forward for the Portland Trailblazers, made some not-so-flattering comments about his former school and head coach that had Kentucky fans ready to cut the cord.

What Wenyen said

In response to Coach John Calipari wishing another former Wildcat, Bam Adebayo, a happy birthday, Gabriel let some apparent frustrations bubble over. Remember that in a private message to a potential recruit that was publicly circulated in the fall, Gabriel had questioned the way his skills were (under) utilized at Kentucky. He hinted that Calipari had even misled him in the recruiting process. In his recent comments, Gabriel went a step further by mentioning that Calipari had “cut [him] off” after the direct message was leaked.

Gabriel didn’t stop there in his poking of UK fans. He doubled down and went out of his way to let everyone know that he doesn’t care about respect and never needed support from the BBN.

“Never needed y’all just like how y’all never needed me,” he responded in the comments section of Calipari’s Instagram post.

Based on the immediate fan reaction, Wenyen might be getting his Wildcat membership revoked. But that’s the fickle nature of a sometimes-overzealous fan base. As fans, we want everyone to be honest and transparent—except when we don’t! We’ll shower you with love when you’re blowing us kisses, but speak the least bit unkindly about La Familia, and out the door you go.  

Lukasz Obrzut may be one of the most beloved ex-Wildcat players on the planet. Woo made an in-person appearance on the show this morning, and Michael asked him specifically about the Wenyen comments.

What Woo said about what Wenyen said

“It might take Big Blue Nation a couple of decades to forgive him,” Woo answered. “But he will be forgiven. Sometimes players get upset. I think a lot of players around the program—if they’re going to have that type of conversation with a coach, they’re going to have a one-on-one in his office, not in public.”

“Look at Kyle Macy,” Woo continued. “He said something slick, and all of a sudden they’re getting ready to take his jersey down. And it was over something silly. Kentucky’s fan base is very sensitive. We have a cult-like following. You just have to be careful what you say.”

With a championship banner under his belt and being arguably the most popular player back in the day, Macy has a ton of equity in the bank with Kentucky fans. Woo has a cult-like following himself. Wenyen, however, is in a different category altogether. When you criticize the fan base, publicly feud with your ex coach, and can’t handle the ball in the crunch, you shouldn’t be surprised that you’re standing on shaky ground.

Once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat? For Wenyen Gabriel, your guess is as good as mine.

Dr. John Huang
Dr. John Huang is a retired orthodontist and military veteran. As a lifelong Wildcat fan, a fledgling author, and an occasional guest host of Just the Cats Radio, he's now living out his dream as a UK Sports columnist. Dr. Huang also covers professional sports on a regional level. You can follow him on Twitter @KYHuangs or contact him If you enjoy his writing, you can also read more at

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