After spending two collegiate seasons at Oregon, the New York Knicks signed Kenny Wooten as an undrafted free agent. After being waived by New York, Wooten joined the Westchester Knicks as an affiliate player. Throughout the 2019-20 campaign, Ridiculous Upside will follow the rookie forward through his first year as a professional player.
Kenny Wooten was a defensive force during his two years at Oregon. He used his high-level athleticism and great timing to rank in the top three in blocks per game in the Pac-12 in his two collegiate seasons. The Oregon product earned back-to-back All-Pac-12 Defensive team honors and ranks third all-time for blocked shots (166) in Oregon history.
After two seasons at the collegiate level, the sophomore forward felt it was best to forego his final two years and start his professional career.
“I feel like I developed my freshman year and I feel like I developed my sophomore year, but I feel like I wasn’t developing as fast as I wanted to, Wooten told Ridiculous Upside. “So I felt like I needed to take the professional step and I feel like I made the right decision.”
Wooten had pre-draft workouts with the New York Knicks and Sacramento Kings, along with 10 other teams. He wasn't invited to the NBA combine, but received an opportunity at the NBA G League Elite Camp to show his talents in front of NBA and NBA G League scouts, coaches and front-office executives.
“That was fun,” Wooten said. “I feel like my measurements were great and I feel like being able to play in front of the coaches was really fun and I feel like it was just the beginning of my journey going to the G League.”
The rookie forward competed with the New York Knicks in Summer League and made a great impression, which resulted in him signing an Exhibit 10 deal with the team. The deal gave him incentive to suit up with the Westchester Knicks, but his deal could be converted to a two-day deal.
Being with a team from Summer League through the preseason and training camp up to the start of the G League season can be beneficial for a player. He can get acclimated to what the team is expected to run, along with playing with future teammates.
“I feel like ever since Summer League, I’ve been able to really gel with all my teammates and I feel like we’ve all really been able to play well together and I feel like I’ve been developing really well with this team.” Wooten said.
As the offseason progressed, the Knicks forward worked on adding strength in his legs, getting stability, and worked on balance. Wooten stated that he was trying to get my mind right, along with changing his eating habits.
Instead of entering his junior season at Oregon, Wooten is arriving in Westchester for his rookie season. He is expected to make a significant impact on the offensive end, while having an opportunity to develop his game. The rookie forward believes being under the professional setting with the Knicks is giving him more of an opportunity than an extra season (or two) at Oregon could have given him.
“I feel like the coaches here believe in my offensive game,” Wooten said. “They want me to play more aggressive on the offensive side and I feel like I really didn’t get that at the University of Oregon. I feel like these coaches, they really believe in me and I feel like I have the coaches behind my back every time.”
The rookie shot blocker is in a good position to develop in the G League. Not only has Westchester developed a track record of pushing players to the NBA, but the NBAGL gives players an opportunity and platform to further develop their game.
“I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else,” Wooten said. “I feel like I’ve been developing well. I feel like every game and every practice, I’ve gotten better. I feel like my mentally going into the games are differently. I’ve been able to play more aggressively and I feel like this is just the beginning really of my career and I’m happy to start here.”
Stay tuned for Entry two...