5 things to know about reported Celtics signing Wenyen Gabriel

Gabriel played his high school ball in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Wenyen Gabriel and Andrew Wiggins compete for a rebound. Godofredo A. Vásquez/AP Photo

It may not have been their most eye-popping acquisition of the day (see: Jrue Holiday), but the Celtics fortified their frontcourt by reportedly agreeing to a training camp deal with Wenyen Gabriel on Sunday.

Gabriel, a 26-year-old, 6-foot-9 forward/center, averaged 5.5 points and 4.2 rebounds for the Los Angeles Lakers last season.

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Gabriel “will compete for a reserve big man spot in Boston.”

Here are five things to know about the Celtics’ latest reported signing:

He’s had a unique journey that includes some time in Massachusetts.

Gabriel was born in Khartoum, Sudan, during a civil war between North Sudan and South Sudan.

His name, Wenyen, means “wipe your tears” and is a tribute to his sister who died before he was born.


“I’ve kind of taken it on going forward as I’m going to wipe the tears for my family, wipe the tears for my country,” Gabriel said.

He moved to Egypt around age 1 and to the United States as a refugee around age 3. Gabriel started playing basketball around fifth or sixth grade.

He split his high school career between Trinity High School (Manchester, N.H.) and Wilbraham & Monson Academy (Wilbraham, Mass.).

His sister, Karima, graduated from Boston College off a basketball scholarship.

Gabriel was 6-foot-1 as a freshman and initially didn’t appear destined for Division 1 stardom. After a major growth spurt, he received offers from Kentucky, Maryland, Duke, UConn, and Providence, among others, and chose Kentucky.

Gabriel, ESPN’s No. 14 player in the Class of 2016, was a 5-star recruit. He contributed as a freshman, averaged 6.8 points and 5.4 rebounds as a sophomore, and declared for the NBA Draft in 2018.

He went undrafted and has bounced around a lot since.

Gabriel wasn’t selected in 2018, but he was able to find a temporary home with the Sacramento Kings on a two-way contract. Before the 2019-20 season, the Kings converted his contract into a standard deal.

He averaged 2.1 points and 1.7 rebounds in just 7.8 minutes per game in 2020, splitting time between the Kings and Portland Trail Blazers.


Gabriel then spent 21 games with the New Orleans Pelicans in 2020-21. He played a single minute with the Brooklyn Nets, six games with the Los Angeles Clippers, and 19 games (five starts) with the Lakers in 2021-22.

He’s also spent time with the Stockton Kings and Wisconsin Herd in the G-League over the years.

He carved out a role with the Lakers.

Gabriel averaged 6.7 points and 4.3 rebounds with the Lakers in 2021-22.

Last season, he appeared in 68 games and established himself as a steady glue guy on a star-studded roster.

Gabriel thrives as a rim-runner, pick-and-roll player, and defender. His shot is still developing (27.8 percent from 3 last year), but he is capable of making 3s. He’s a bit of a liability at the line, where he’s shot just 62.4 percent throughout his career.

He helped South Sudan qualify for its first Olympics.

Gabriel represented his home country in the 2023 FIBA World Cup, guiding South Sudan to its first-ever spot in the Olympics (in 2024).

He averaged 9.2 points and 6.8 rebounds as his new nation (independent in 2011) made history.

“I’m with all my brothers,” Gabriel said. “We worked really hard to get here. You can tell by the energy in the building, we’re all very excited. We’re honored. We’re very proud to wear South Sudan across our chest.”

He has a prime opportunity in front of him.

Charania reported that Gabriel has worked out for the Celtics in recent weeks.

With Robert Williams gone, Al Horford likely not playing every night, and Kristaps Porzingis always a risk to get injured, it’s possible Gabriel could carve out a role in Boston.


He’ll compete for playing time alongside Luke Kornet and Neemias Queta, among others. Gabriel is a bit more polished offensively than Queta and a bit more springy defensively than Kornet.

Gabriel spent 78 percent of his minutes at center and 22 percent at power forward last season.

At the very least, he’s someone who can provide energy off the bench and change the complexion of the game. At most, he has a chance to develop into a key contributor for a team in need of some frontcourt depth.


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