The Oregon men’s basketball team may be down to six players on the roster after Kenny Wooten wrote on Instagram that he will not return for his junior season.
The 6-foot-9 Wooten declared for the NBA Draft after averaging 6.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game as a sophomore. He has until May 29 to officially stay in the draft or return to school, but late Sunday night he indicated on social media that the has decided to turn pro.
When asked “U coming back next year?”, Wooten responded “I know I’ve waited a very long time to answer this question … but I will not be coming back for year 3.”
Wooten did not returned a message seeking comment and the school has not confirmed a final decision from Wooten.
Wooten appeared on some Top 100 prospect lists during the season, but was not generally projected to be among the 60 players selected in the two-round draft. However, Wooten impressed teams last week at the G League Elite Camp with a vertical leap of 12 feet, 6 inches.
Wooten’s athleticism could tempt teams to take him and work on his skill set. Wooten did not start playing organized basketball until his freshman season in high school.
He arrived at Oregon out of Manteca (Calif.) High School and averaged 6.4 points and 4.5 rebounds as a freshman. He blocked 92 shots to rank second behind Jordan Bell on the school’s all-time blocks list for freshmen. Wooten’s 92 blocks as a freshman ranks third on the school’s single-season list while 74 blocks as a sophomore ranks sixth.
Wooten’s 166 blocked shots ranks third in UO history behind Bell and Chris Boucher. He was named to the Pac-12 all-defensive team during each of his first two years with the Ducks.
Wooten missed four games last season due to a broken jaw, but started 27 of 34 games he played. He shot 58.3 percent from the field to rank sixth in UO single-season history.
Wooten’s minutes were sometimes limited due to early foul trouble, but he had a strong postseason run for the Ducks last year. Wooten blocked at lest four shots in each of Oregon’s last four victories, including a 73-54 win over UC Irvine in the second round of the NCAA Tournament when he finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and seven blocked shots.
Wooten would become the third Duck to declare for the draft this season, joining Bol Bol and Louis King. Freshman Miles Norris announced he will transfer to UC Santa Barbara while sophomore guard Victor Bailey also elected to transfer.
Payton Pritchard declared for the draft with the possibility of returning for his senior season.
The only other returning scholarship players on the roster are forward Francis Okoro and guard Will Richardson.
Oregon will add junior-college guard Chris Duarte and freshmen forwards Chandler Lawson and C.J. Walker. Guard Eric Williams, a transfer from Duquesne, will have to sit out next season unless he can appeal the NCAA to be declared immediately eligible.
The Ducks are in the mix for a few transfers who could be eligible immediately including Khalid Thomas, a West Linn graduate ranked as the No. 2 junior-college prospect by 247Sports out of College of Southern Idaho. The 6-9, 210-pound Thomas recently ended his commitment to Texas Tech and Oregon is expected to be among his potential schools for next season.