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.
Previous Entries: Entry One
It’s November 11th. An unforeseen issue to the Westchester County Center floor caused a relocation to the Westchester Knicks’ home opener. Less than 30 miles southwest from Westchester’s home, Kenny Wooten made his professional debut at Madison Square Garden.
Wooten has made a strong impact on the team due to his interior defense. He uses his elite athleticism and great timing to swat shots and make highlights that could be played on loop.
He swatted away a franchise-tying eight shots in his fifth game. Wooten recorded six games of five or more blocks through his first 14 games and currently has eight to his name. He is making a great impact due to his defense and shot blocking, while putting his name alongside on of the top shot blockers (Jordan Bachynski) in the franchise.
When Wooten is in a groove like he was against the Grand Rapids Drive, he can sense defenders coming and he has the confidence he could always have those kind of performances.
“It feels special,” Kenny Wooten told Ridiculous Upside. “When it’s me, I can see blocks coming from a mile away because I just see people coming and I just time it. Honestly, I always feel like I could get like an eight block or 10 block night. It’s just a matter of whether you’re going to keep driving or not.”
The Knicks forward continued by saying it’s special that he is cementing his name as one of the top shot blockers to wear the Westchester Knicks’ blue and orange.
“It’s special,” he continued. “I hear it a lot. A lot of my teammates have been telling me about it. It feels good coming out here representing New York and being able to become a top shot blocker for this franchise. Being such a big franchise. A big organization. It’s special and I feel like if I just keep on continuing, I’ll be one of the top shot blockers out here. Hopefully if things go into play. But if not, we’ll see.”
As the season kept progressing, Wooten kept blocking shots left and right. He was swatting shots off the backboard and into the the third row. Not only did his blocks bring the crowd at the Westchester County Center to their feet, but the highlights were featured on SportsCenter’s Top 10 on multiple occasions.
Wooten felt it was a dream come true upon hearing that his highlights were featured on SportsCenter.
“To be honest, when I did it, I didn’t think much of it,” Wooten said. “But seeing it on SportsCenter, it’s a dream come true, especially being in the G League. I don’t think we’ve had a person on SportsCenter this year in the G League, so it was a fun experience being on there. I didn’t actually watch it. A lot of people told me about it, so hearing about it was surreal.”
On one day, a Wooten highlight was featured on SC’s Top 10. A few days later, the Westchester Knicks were in a different time zone. The Knicks traveled more than two thousand miles to Las Vegas for the Winter Showcase for the premier event of the G League season. As the rookie forward competed in his first Showcase, he described the event as a good experience, while stating the team accomplished their task.
“We compete against top talent every night,” Wooten said. “Just being there and being in front of the scouts; it was a good experience going out there for the first time. Just getting a feel for it. We ultimately accomplished our goal. Going out 2-0. I think we did well out there.”
Wooten made a strong impression due to his play on the court through the first two months of the season. His shot blocking prowess and defense are facets of his game he is known for, but he has shown a smooth jump shot and is averaging 15.5 points per game in his last four games.
While his play caught the eyes of several NBA teams leading up to January 5, the 6’8” forward just focused on the present.
“I really just go out there and focus on the now,” Wooten said. “I’m really just focused on my games I got going on. I’m not really too focused on call-ups right now to be honest. But if it happens, it will be a great opportunity. But I’m really just locked in with this team. We’re focused on going out to Atlanta and getting us a dub.”
Half of Kenny Wooten’s rookie season is in the rear view mirror and he has his foot on the gas pedal heading into the rest of 2020. From day one to the last game of 2019, he felt his game grew the most due to the game slowing down.
“I feel like the game has been slowing down for me a lot,” Wooten said. “I feel like I’m starting to see a lot more. On my rolls, I’m able to kick out. I’m able to see the charges coming. I don’t think I’ve gotten a charge this year. I feel like ultimately the game is just slowing down for me. That’s my biggest thing right now.”
Stay tuned for Entry three...