Kenny Wooten was wearing a mask as he went through drills with Oregon assistant coach Mike Mennenga before practice on Tuesday.
The 6-foot-9 sophomore, who has missed UO’s past four games with a broken jaw, was running sprints before shooting jumpers and free throws. Wooten, who ranks fourth in school history with 111 blocked shots in 48 games, also went through defensive drills.
However, Oregon coach Dana Altman cautioned that Wooten is unlikely to return when the Ducks (10-6, 1-2) visit Arizona (13-4, 4-0) Thursday night at 6 p.m.
“I don’t think so, but he will see the doctor (Tuesday),” Altman said. “HIs family and his people want to see him back and we want to see him back. We will have to wait and see what the doctor says.”
Wooten was averaging 6.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots in 12 games for the Ducks before being injured during a 57-47 loss at Baylor on Dec. 21. Altman originally said Wooten was expected to miss four-to-six weeks, but Wooten revealed on Twitter than he was fitted for a facemark to try and speed up his return.
“He’s got the mask on and everything has been dry,” Altman said, noting that Wooten has been running and shooting but not going through contact drills. “We haven’t taken any chances. The mask does make him look a lot tougher, so we are hoping that will help.”
With Bol Bol out for the season due to a broken foot, Oregon has been without both of its rim protectors and two of its top three rebounders while Wooten has been on the bench. His return would be a big boost for the Ducks, who have only eight healthy scholarship players.
“We need Kenny, he’s got that facemark on looking like Rip Hamilton,” freshman forward Louis King said, referring to longtime NBA player Richard Hamilton.
Arizona coach Sean Miller said Tuesday that he assumed Wooten would try to return and face the Wildcats.
“I hope he plays because he is another outstanding player,” Miller said. “He is a great shot blocker and when he’s part of their team he adds to their press because of his defense and he adds to their rebounding because of how quick he is.”