Kenny Wooten will not be graduating from Manteca High almost two months after helping the boys basketball team win its first state championship.
On Friday, Manteca athletic director Bill Slikker confirmed that the 6-foot-9 Nevada-Reno signee withdrew from the school late last week and has reportedly enrolled at Trinity International out of Las Vegas. The Reno Gazette-Journal published a story about the transfer Thursday.
“I haven’t talked to him since he withdrew from Manteca High,” Slikker said. “As an administration we met with him and talked to him about his options. It’s not a decision I would make but one that his family would have to make and did. We told him we support you and we’re here to help. He thanked us for the time he had at Manteca High and we wish him well.”
Wooten averaged 13.6 points, 10.9 rebounds and 4.0 blocks in his only season with the Buffaloes. He previously transferred from Stagg of Stockton and had to sit out his entire junior year due to CIF transfer rules.
“He’s a great kid,” Slikker said. “He’s been nothing but positive since his junior year. Even though he was ineligible, he was there every single day to support his teammates and was the first to congratulate them.”
Manteca went 22-8 and reached the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III semifinals without Wooten in 2015. With him, the Buffaloes had an imposing front line that included 6-9 center Anand Hundal and 6-8 guard/forward Tydus Verhoeven, Wooten’s cousin.
Wooten played a huge role in Manteca (29-6) winning the CIF Division III state title on March 24, pouring in 24 points, on 10-of-12 shooting, 17 rebounds and nine blocks in the 60-51 over Ayala of Chino Hills at Sleep Train Arena. Wooten was named to the MaxPreps All-State Division III first team.
Wooten signed with Nevada on Nov. 11 and is part of a recruiting class ranked 35th according to Rivals.com. A freakish athlete with long limbs and otherworldly leaping ability, Wooten is considered a four-star recruit by ESPN.
Wooten was set to join an up-and-coming Wolf Pack team starring Cameron Oliver in the frontcourt and led by former NBA coach Eric Musselman, but his status with the school is now in question.
Slikker speculated that Wooten may have transferred to Trinity International to further develop his skills, as he only started playing basketball his freshman year.
Wooten is not the first basketball standout to leave Manteca for a prep school. Keyondrei “Kiwi” Gardner was a wildly popular point guard and YouTube sensation for his dribbling skills and dunking ability at 5-foot-7. In 2010, he left Manteca for Westwind Prep Academy in Arizona but did not get to play in his senior year because of Arizona Interscholastic Association transfer rules.
“For someone who started playing as a freshman and missed his entire junior year, the sky is the limit for Kenny,” Slikker said. “As coaches and A.D.s, our job is to get these kids to graduate and be successful after high school and I think we were on the right track with Kenny. Personally, I would have liked to have seen him go straight to college. This is definitely a gamble and a risk, but I truly hope it works out for him. The kid is a heck of a talent, and anybody would be lucky to have him.”