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ESPN Names Dalton Knecht Transfer of the Year, Runner Up Player of the Year

Dalton Knecht
Tennessee guard Dalton Knecht. Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics.

With the college basketball regular season wrapping up this weekend and the postseason just around the corner, the major awards from the season are set to be released over the next handful of weeks. Naismith will begin to roll out their semi-finalists and finalists over the next few weeks with other organizations following behind.

ESPN’s Jeff Borzello released his regular-season awards on Thursday with Tennessee guard Dalton Knecht popping up three times on the list.

Knecht, a two-year player at Northern Colorado before his lone season on Rocky Top, was named Borzello’s Transfer of the Year for the 2023-2024 college basketball season. The Vols’ 6-foot-6 guard is averaging 20.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.8 assists over 30 games for Tennessee and is shooting a career-high 40.6 percent from three-point range.

“The Northern Colorado transfer stepped on the floor in the preseason and was immediately the best player in Knoxville,” Borzello wrote. “He’s a truly elite offensive player, capable of huge performances: 39 points vs. Auburn, 39 points vs. Florida, 37 points vs. North Carolina, 36 points vs. Georgia. He is averaging 20.6 points and shooting better than 40% from 3 entering the week.”

Knecht has been a scoring machine for Tennessee this season and has really elevated his game during conference play. Knecht is a big reason behind Tennessee’s current seven-game win streak and there’s no coincidence that Knecht’s presence on this particular team has helped the Vols achieve their t-longest ranked-win streak at six games. The Vols can break a program record for consecutive wins over AP Top 25 teams (7) with a win over No. 15 Kentucky this Saturday in Knoxville.

More from RTI: ESPN Moves Tennessee Basketball Up To A One-Seed Following Win Over South Carolina

In addition to Transfer of the Year, Knecht was also named the runner-up for Player of the Year, though there’s been a lot of conversation around this specific topic after a flurry of high-scoring games from the Tennessee guard this year. Borzello’s pick goes to Purdue center Zach Edey, who is averaging 24.1 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 1.9 assists over 30 games this season. Edey has scored 30 or more points seven times in Big Ten play, but Knecht has also scored 30 or more points in five SEC games this year from the shooting guard position.

“Knecht has been sensational offensively all season for the Vols, and his enormous single-game performances have at times sparked conversation about whether there could be a race for Player of the Year,” Borzello wrote for ESPN. “There isn’t a race, but he’s still good enough to lead the Vols to a Final Four.”

And, lastly, Knecht makes an unsurprising play for a First Team All-American selection. The Tennessee guard sits alongside Purdue’s Zach Edey, North Carolina’s RJ Davis, Houston’s Jamal Shead, and Arizona’s Caleb Love. Knecht played two of the other four players in Edey in Davis, both taking place in the month of November.

“Knecht is the main reason for Tennessee’s dramatic improvement on the offensive end,” Borzello wrote. “He has been the best perimeter scorer in college basketball this season, putting up 20.6 points per game. His lone stretch of less-than-stellar offensive output was due to an ankle injury.”

Other SEC notables include Alabama’s Mark Sears and Auburn’s Johni Broome on the Second Team and Kentucky’s Antonio Reeves on the Third Team.

Here’s a timeline for the Naismith Basketball Player of the Year timeline, which will likely have Dalton Knecht featured throughout:

  • Naismith Men’s College POY – National Semifinalists (10): March 15
  • Naismith Men’s College POY – Finalists (4): March 26
  • Naismith Men’s College POY – Winner: April 7

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