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Dalton Knecht Named Top 5 NBA Draft Prospect in the NCAA Tournament

Dalton Knecht
Tennessee guard Dalton Knecht. Photo via Tennessee Athletics.

With a one-year stop in Knoxville winding down, Tennessee guard Dalton Knecht will soon be turning his attention to the NBA Draft.

Spending his previous two seasons at Northern Colorado and his two seasons before that at junior college, Knecht came to Tennessee to raise his professional profile on a standout team in a premium basketball conference.

Knecht turned himself into the SEC’s leading scorer, the SEC Player of the Year, and a consensus First Team All-American selection.

The 6-foot-6 senior has been driving up draft boards all season. In December, ESPN had Knecht as the 40th overall pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. Then, in January, Knecht moved up to No. 24 in ESPN’s rankings. In February, the Tennessee breakout star was up to the 18th overall pick. Now, in a mock draft from at the start of the tournament, Knecht was slotted at the 15 spot.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo have Knecht slotted in as the fourth-best NBA prospect from the NCAA Tournament. Knecht only trails a pair of Kentucky guards in Rob Dillingham and Reed Sheppard in the top two spots and UConn center Donovan Clingan at the third spot.

With Kentucky being bounced on the first day of the tournament, Knecht is now the second-best prospect still playing for the National Championship.

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“Knecht emerged as Tennessee’s go-to scorer after transferring from Northern Colorado, putting himself on the map as a first-round pick while carrying the Volunteers,” Jeremy Woo wrote for ESPN. “He was not on the radar this time a year ago but legitimized himself with three-level scoring instincts and the ability to shoot off screens as well as off the bounce. His ability to efficiently shoulder a heavy volume has made him one of the most dangerous players in the country.”

In addition to playing on a bigger platform, Knecht also came to Tennessee to improve his defense prowess. While Knecht is by no means Tennessee’s best defender and would’ve really benefitted from more years in the program, the NBA Draft prospect has significantly improved since the start of the season.

“On the defensive end, Knecht is often targeted by opponents due to his below-average awareness and slow foot speed, something NBA scouts have scrutinized and a trend that should continue in high-level tournament games,” Woo continued on to write. “For as much as he has the ball, Knecht also isn’t a great playmaker (2.3 assists per 40). If opposing teams can slow him down, the Volunteers can be vulnerable due to the lack of quality shooting around him, something we saw happen against Mississippi State in the SEC tournament. The tourney is a big platform for Knecht to make a statement.”

The 2024 NBA Draft will take place from June 26-27 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

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