Call it a cautionary tale, a shock or not, but the futures of Louis King and Kenny Wooten are unclear.
Both Ducks decided to leave the Oregon men’s basketball program following UO’s shocking run to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 and enter into the 2019 NBA Draft.
Neither was among the 60 players selected on Thursday night's event and will now enter the free agency market to try to sign with a team. As of Friday afternoon, both were still looking for an NBA Summer League spot, which would be a solid opportunity for either Duck in hopes to garner some attention and strike a free agent deal.
Not to mention, a chance to validate their decision to leave school early to pursue their professional career.
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Freshman King was a former five-star recruit and became Oregon’s third ever one-and-done when he left for the draft. King’s draft stock certainly climbed through Oregon’s run in the Pac-12 and NCAA Tournaments after scoring in double-figures in each game and being named to the Pac-12 All-Tournament team. In seven postseason games, he averaged 16.4 points per game on 50 percent shooting, including an impressive 61.1 percent from beyond the arc.
The Ducks’ leading scorer has NBA potential and was told by his agent to prepare to be drafted in the 15-40 range. The 6-9, 200-pound forward is a prospect with the potential to be a force on both ends of the floor. King is able to play positionless ball and develop into a two-way player. His power forward size, tenacious defense and perimeter skill set make him an attractive pick up for a team.
It remains to be seen which team or if there will be a team that sees the upside on King. He would be a project; the wing needs to develop his post moves so that he can take advantage of mismatches on smaller or weaker defenders at the next level. His three-point shooting and dribbling must continue to improve and develop to space the floor. NBA teams will want to see him get stronger and put on more weight.
Then there is Wooten, who wasn’t included in any mock drafts entering Thursday. Wooten’s decision to leave Oregon after his sophomore season was more shocking. Wooten was not invited to the NBA Combine, yet still was flown all over the country to conduct 12 pre-draft workouts.
The 6-foot-9 rim protector’s athleticism is undeniable but concerns surrounded his NBA readiness. Wooten’s offensive game is raw. If he’s not catching and dunking, he doesn’t do much offensively and only totaled 33 assists in 70 college games. He must develop his shot and be able to space the floors.
The upside? Wooten has a standing total jump of 12’6”, recorded at the G-League Elite Camp. His vertical explosion paired with his excellent timing makes for a dangerous shot blocking recipe. He excels at swatting the ball to teammates to keep the play alive. In his two seasons at UO, Wooten ranks third all-time in Oregon history for blocked shots with 166, earning back-to-back All-Pac-12 Defensive team honors.
Will there be a team that rolls the dice on the master of contesting shots? He’s a menace in the paint but he needs to show that he can develop his offensive game.
The draft was unsuccessful for both of these Ducks, leaving their futures murky. However, “unclear” doesn’t always mean “bad”. If King and Wooten get a chance at summer league, they best take full advantage of showing scouts they are capable of playing in an NBA uniform.