Jaden McDaniels quickly disappeared from view once the college basketball season ended and the freshman forward declared his intentions to leave the University of Washington for the NBA draft.
While his name frequently surfaces in mock drafts, McDaniels hasn't made himself available for any media inquisitions or visible on social media. There's been no recent sightings of the gifted 6-foot-9 player. No quotes. Nothing.
It's like the shy and mysterious one is in a self-induced quarantine, which is his style.
At least the former Husky was hidden away until last week, when his name was plastered all over Kentucky again for reasons not of his doing.
McDaniels has been at the center of a tiff between Wildcats coach John Calipari and former UK forward Wenyen Gabriel, now with the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA bubble in Orlando, going on a year now.
Once McDaniels committed to the Huskies, someone leaked an Instagram direct message that Gabriel had sent to the Seattle-area player, discouraging him from coming to Kentucky while suggesting the coach makes false promises.
The missive read as follows:
"Don't fall in love with (Calipari's) words let me tell you the real! If you not ready to do it like right NOW. Like if you not ready to be one of the (STARS) and make all the plays ... then (you're going to) end up being just a skinny big man there. And trust me, that (stuff) is HARD. First thing's first, if your handle is shaky, he's (going to) stop you from dribbling. (That stuff is going to mess you) up because (you're going) to feel handicapped. Then he (is going to) tell you to just catch and shoot or go set a slip screen and try to get open from there. But if there are no bigs, (you're going to) be guarding all bigs ..."
Gabriel later said he tried to apologize to Calipari but they never connected. The issue died down until last week, when the Kentucky basketball coach sent a birthday wish on social media to former Wildcat Bam Adebayo, now with the Miami Heat.
Gabriel couldn't help himself and posted in the comments section, "Damn where was my (birthday) wish in March."
Kentucky fans got all over him once more, seeing him as this supposedly disloyal middle man getting between McDaniels and the program.
Gabriel had this response, referencing Calipari, during the flare-up, "I didn't like playing for him in college. Before I came to Kentucky, I was a top-15 recruit. When I left I went undrafted."
Chances are McDaniels has no idea of the word play going back and forth in Kentucky that involves him only in passing. Gabriel had one more Instagram fan retort on the weekend that sounded beneficial for Jaden.
"I told him the truth and he did what he wanted with that information," he wrote of McDaniels. "He'll still make millions if he wants to."
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