Oregon's Kenny Wooten, a 6-foot-9 freshman, has made 52 of 68 shots from the field (76.5 percent) this winter. [THE ASSOCIATED PRESS]

Wooten a reluctant, accurate shooter

EUGENE — Kenny Wooten would rank second in the NCAA in field-goal percentage if he had enough shots to qualify.

Dana Altman would like to make that happen.

The 6-foot-9 Oregon freshman has made 52 of 68 shots from the field, 76.5 percent, but he needs to average five baskets per game to rank among the nation’s leaders, leaving him 23 short of the standard.

“We haven’t been getting him the ball enough,” Altman said following Sunday’s 77-62 victory over Colorado. “Guys just don’t look, and he never calls for it. He’s got to start calling for the ball and making those guys throw it to him. We’ve got to go more inside-out and start doing a lot better job.”

Wooten did not attempt a shot in Friday’s 66-56 loss to Utah, and he went 4-for-4 from the field and scored 13 points against the Buffaloes.

“We watched film on it and we weren’t mad they didn’t give me the ball, but we had to look for it more this game,” Wooten said. “Coach told me not to worry about it. He’s trying to get the guards to look inside more often.”

Wooten, who has shot at least 50 percent from the field in every game, attempted at least six shots from the field in Oregon’s final five nonconference games, making 29 of 35 shots overall.

“There were five or six opportunities we had to throw him the ball against Utah,” Altman said. “He’s got to call for it, but our guys have to look, and I just have to make them throw in there. He’s giving us so many things, we’ve got to give him the ball. He’s so unselfish. He’ll pass it out if he doesn’t have a good (shot), he doesn’t take any bad shots.”

Wooten, who averages 8.5 points and 5.4 rebounds, came off the bench in Oregon’s first 12 games, then started twice when Paul White was out with a concussion. He stayed in the starting lineup and played a season-high 31 minutes when White returned against Colorado.

“We’re depending on him, and he’s doing a good job,” Altman said. “I’m not sure how many minutes he’s going to be good for every night, but we’re better with him on the floor.”

Wooten blocked 28 shots in the past six games and ranks ninth in the country with an average of 3.3 blocks. Chris Boucher holds the school record at 2.9 blocks per game in 2015-16, and Jordan Bell’s best mark was 2.7 in 2014-15.

“Coach wants me to be the man on defense,” Wooten said. “Try to guide everyone and talk them through it. I try to help my teammates when they get beat because I want them to help me.”

Wooten is playing 21.5 minutes per game despite foul trouble. He has fouled out of three games and averages nearly three fouls per game.

Altman pointed out a foul Wooten committed with 1:06 left against Colorado while Oregon had a 15-point lead.

“He goes for a steal and fouls,” Altman said. “‘Kenny, not at that time, you don’t go for the steal.’ Make them hit a tough shot. We don’t want the clock to stop, we don’t want them to get an and-one. That’s not the time to try and make that play.”

Wooten lives with fellow freshmen Troy Brown and Victor Bailey. Those three have emerged as regulars, combining to give the Ducks nearly 70 minutes per game on the court.

Brown scored 37 points in last week’s games against Colorado and Utah to push his scoring average to 12.7. Bailey is providing 7.7 points per game off the bench.

Add in Abu Kigab and M.J. Cage and five of Oregon’s 11 scholarship players are freshmen.

“Everything is different for them,” Altman said of that class. “They don’t understand why we’re barking at them sometimes. They don’t understand the details of the game. They just kind of want to play.”

Share This Story