Entering this season, Oregon was supposed to be the Pac-12’s basketball savior. After an embarrassing 2018 NCAA Tournament where no teams got past the first round, West Coast fans looked to the Ducks and their nationally 3rd-ranked recruiting class to revitalize the conference.
When 5-star freshman Bol Bol and Louis King went down with injuries (the former for the whole season), the load shifted to other contributors. One of those was sophomore center Kenny Wooten, who is the anchor for the nation’s 15th-best defense per Ken Pomeroy.
While not a prolific scorer (6.4 points per game), the 6-foot-9, 235-pounder swats 2 shots a game. His 12.2 percent block rate is 10th-best in the country. He’s taken this prowess to a new level recently, guiding the Ducks to the Pac-12 Tournament title over Washington with 4 blocks in a 68-48 victory.
In the NCAA Tournament first round, he harassed Badger center Ethan Happ into just 12 points, recording 4 more blocks in another double-digit win.
Oregon is now living up to the early-season promise, as it stands just one win over UC Irvine away from the Sweet 16. With the television cameras pointing at him, Wooten has a chance to earn to climb NBA Draft boards.
Let’s look at prognostications and provide a scouting report.
Kenny Wooten Draft Projections & Mock Drafts
Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype aggregates 5 different mocks from Bleacher Report, SI.com, ESPN, The Athletic and NBA Draft. Wooten doesn’t appear on any of them.
Some of these pessimistic views are due to Wooten missing some time due to a dislocated jaw in December. Bri Aramanthus of Yahoo Sports sees Wooten as a fringe second-rounder.
He already ranks 4th in UO career blocks with 113. An excellent rim protector, Wooten’s defensive instincts are listed as a strength according to mock drafts, along with his ability to finish plays around the basket.
Wooten needs to improve offensively as a passer and a shooter. His free throw shooting and footwork needs work as well. His play in the PK80 Classic last year helped him gain some buzz in draft circles, but it would probably be in his best interest to continue to develop before declaring for the draft.
Projection: 2nd Round to undrafted
Player comparison: Jordan Bell.
Kenny Wooten Scouting Report
Oregon head coach Dana Altman has pumped out a few NBA prospects that look and play like Wooten. In addition to Bell, who now rotates off the bench for the Warriors, Chris Boucher is a 6-foot-10 defensive specialist for the Toronto Raptors.
This looks like the path for Wooten. Looking at his game against Wisconsin (video above), his athleticism, defensive instincts and length are tantalizing skills for NBA teams to utilize against stretch 5’s.
The first block, he easily runs with Happ to block a shot from behind. Not content to end the play there, he’s able to demonstrate his strength by shoving Happ aside on the recovery.
Just look at his elevation on the second block…wow. On the next one, he shows off impressive body control, as he jumped early but adjusted in mid-air to still tip the shot. This also exhibits his 7-foot wingspan.
On the offensive end, he mostly serves a role as the finisher on alley-oops and dunks. Develop any semblance of a game on that end, and his stock should skyrocket. For the time being, though, he should be due for a bump as he makes more highlight reels as a defender.