Height/Weight: 6’9″ 235 lbs.
Kenny Wooten is an absolute force on the defensive end for Oregon, and his effort and rim protecting ability have really sparked the Ducks in March and played a big roll in their run during the NCAA Tournament. Wooten makes life miserable for opposing players when they get into the lane, as he’s constantly altering and blocking shots like it’s his job. He is simply one of the best rim protectors in college basketball, and the heart and soul of the Oregon defense.
What makes Wooten so effective at blocking shots is his combination of athleticism, length, timing, and defensive awareness. Wooten has some serious hops, and he gets off the ground quickly. He also has great anticipation and does an excellent job of sliding in time to meet a driving player at the rim to block or alter their shot.
Wooten is great at defending pick and rolls as well, as he hedges hard to prevent the deep ball, but can also recover quickly to prevent the pass inside for an easy shot on the roll.
In addition to his shot blocking ability, Wooten is also a terrific defender in the post. He makes sure to get in good position when his man posts up, making entry passes very difficult. When his guy does get the ball, he does a good job of moving his feet and staying in front to force a kick out or a tough contested shot. Wooten has excellent defensive awareness and plays very good team defense. He keeps his head on a swivel and is always ready to help when a teammate gets beat.
On the other side of the ball, Wooten likes to crash the offensive glass hard, which puts a lot of pressure on opposing bigs to box out.
He also does a nice job of using his athleticism to out-jump defenders and finish lobs from driving teammates when his man slides to help.
Despite his great length and athleticism, Kenny Wooten isn’t much of a factor on the offensive end and averaged less than seven points per game this year for the Ducks. He struggles with the ball in the post, as he doesn’t have any go-to moves and is not a good finisher with a hand in his face. When he does try to make a move down low, he gets out of control often and turns the ball over or picks up an offensive foul at a high rate. Wooten has no jump shot whatsoever at the moment, and it’s tough for forwards/centers to secure a spot in today’s NBA without being able to knock down at least mid-range jumpers.
He doesn’t have great awareness on offense either, as he simply spends most plays just hovering around the paint and waiting for shots to go up before trying to crash the glass. They don’t use him in pick and roll situations, indicating that they don’t trust his ability to catch and finish at the rim. This is a bad sign for Wooten’s chances at the next level, as the NBA game is so reliant on pick and rolls that all true bigs need to be a threat to score out of the roll to be effective at the next level.
While Wooten is an elite college defender, his success may not translate as well as he hopes to the NBA. As a 6’9 big with no outside game, he would probably play a lot of center, but may struggle to guard NBA centers. He would be giving up a lot of height in most match-ups against centers.
While he would do fine guarding most fours, he’s too much of an offensive liability to be in the game with another true post player which means that he would need to play with a stretch 5. While he is a capable defender down low, he tends to foul at a high rate when guarding the post, something that could be fixed with coaching but is still a concern nevertheless.
I think Wooten would strongly benefit from returning to school for at least another year. If he declares and goes through the draft evaluation process, he may wow teams with his athletic ability in workouts, but he’s still way too much of a liability to have a legit shot at getting drafted this year in my opinion.
Wooten’s future as a pro is most likely at power forward, and he needs to really work on his offense in the offseason to show that he can at least keep defenses honest at the next level. If he can develop a few consistent moves in the post as well as a midrange and/or long range jump shot over the next year, he may be worth a pick in the 2020 draft.