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Dalton Knecht Moves Up In The Latest ESPN NBA Mock Draft

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Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

Dalton Knecht transferred from Northern Colorado this offseason in part to get more exposure and to improve his NBA Draft stock in his final year of collegiate eligibility.

That’s exactly what Knecht has done during his first two months in Knoxville, moving all the way up into the first round of ESPN’s latest 2024 NBA Mock Draft.

The latest mock draft projects Knecht to go with the No. 24 pick in this summer’s NBA Draft.

Knecht enters conference play, averaging 15.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. The 6-foot-6 wing was averaging 19 points per game through the first nine games of the season but struggled in his final three games before the Christmas break in part due to an ankle injury he suffered at North Carolina and continued to play through.

The Thornton, Colorado native looked more like himself in his first game after the 12-day hiatus, totaling 15 points, four rebounds and four assists in just 22 minutes in the Vols’ blowout win over Norfolk State.

More From RTI: Where Tennessee Lands In Latest Bracketology Projections

“Knecht struggled to regain top form in December after a late-November ankle injury slowed his momentum,” ESPN’s Jeremy Woo wrote. “He looked like one of the best scorers in college basketball the first month of the season, with a polished, decisive game that has a chance to translate to the NBA on the sooner end. If he can turn things back around in conference play, it should help solidify his status as a first-round-level player.”

One of the main reasons why Knecht chose Tennessee over other suitors in the transfer portal was his desire to become a better defender and Rick Barnes’ reputation as a defensive coach. Knecht has made strides as a defender this season but it remains a question for his draft prospects.

“Teams have questions about Knecht defensively, where opponents have tried to hunt him this season, and he’s on the older side (he will be 23 on draft night),” Woo wrote. “Still, his scoring ability will appeal to teams that need immediate help on the wing, and there aren’t a ton of wing prospects in his mold who have set themselves apart this season.”

Knecht is looking to become the first Vol drafted in the NBA Draft since the Chicago Bulls selected Julian Phillips in the second round of last year’s draft. If Knecht lands in the first round, he’ll be the Vols’ fourth first round selection in Rick Barnes tenure and the first since Keon Johnson and Jaden Springer in the 2021 NBA Draft.

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