Advertise with usContact UsRTI Team

Everything Rick Barnes Said About NBA Draft, Tennessee’s Summer Workouts

Dalton Knecht
Tennessee HC Rick Barnes and Dalton Knecht at the NBA Draft. Photo via Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics.

Tennessee basketball coach Rick Barnes met with the local media on Friday morning just two days after being in New York City for the first round of the 2024 NBA Draft.

The Vols’ 10th-year head coach discussed Dalton Knecht landing with the Los Angeles Lakers, being in Omaha to watch Tennessee baseball win the National Championship, the beginning of summer workouts and more. Here’s everything Barnes said.

More From RTI: Analyzing Dalton Knecht’s Fit With The Los Angeles Lakers

On Dalton Knecht going No. 17 overall in the NBA Draft to the Los Angeles Lakers

“The draft is so, so unpredictable. And I think going into this, we all talked about it and he understood it, that he’d had some really good workouts with some teams, but then some things happened early in the draft. There were a couple guys that went that no one expected to go. And then it really shuffles everything while we’re at the table. It was amazing how many teams were talking to his agents, trying to see how they could move up, but they got those five minutes to do that. And teams that maybe didn’t think they had a shot, trying to get medical records, all those type things. 

“But with that said, I think it’s a great thing. One, I’m really excited for JJ Redick. And JJ used to work out with us when we were at Texas. He would come over — he had a home there in Austin — and I think he is gonna be just an incredible mentor for Dalton. And I watched a lot of tape (of) JJ with Dalton this year. And one thing JJ said, he said that he wanted to really put a big emphasis on player development, which Dalton’s going to be a great guy to have a chance to work under that. And so I think all said and done, I think it’s a great scenario for Dalton and he’s excited about it and has a chance to go to one of the greatest franchise in sports history and play certainly with some of the very best players and one the best of all time. So he’s excited and we’re excited for him.”

On if Dalton Knecht was able to keep his spirits up as he was sliding deeper into the first round on Wednesday night

“Yeah, I think all because it’s an experience. I told him, I said now every player that we ever recruit, every player, their dream is to one day think about, dream about having their name called. And as you know, 99.9% of them don’t get that opportunity. Just having a chance to be in that green room and have your name called, regardless of where it might be is in itself a dream come true. And then you add on the fact that he’s going to a really historic franchise with just an incredible history. But Dalton, we were sitting there talking, well, you know, you got to Tennessee in a roundabout way in terms of not many people know about you.  And now you’ve always sort of, kind of had a chip on your shoulder wanting to prove people wrong. And you can use it that way too. But this is nothing to be ashamed of or any of that. I think every player wants to be a lottery pick. Sometimes it works out better with who you get picked, picked by, drafted by. And in this situation, I think it’s great for him.”

On what the NBA Draft experience was like in person, being there with Dalton Knecht and his family

“Well, he’s got such a great family. He had a lot of family there and has traveled a long way to be there and be a part of it. Got there a couple days before and had a chance to enjoy New York. And you can imagine, they’ve watched him grow up and they would tell you that they’re not surprised by it. And he grew up as a kid talking about it. And like I said, the dream came true for him.”

On the last week for him, going from Omaha and the College World Series on Monday to the NBA Draft on Wednesday

“Well, my texts finally went over a thousand. But one, it was honestly, being there for the national championship game was extremely special. I’d been there one other time and it was Texas and I told Frank Anderson we’re 2-for-2 because Frank was the pitching coach at Texas when I was there. And he won it that that year. And really one of the highlights with everything that went on was when we were getting ready to leave, I saw Frank sitting in the dugout by himself and that really touched me. He was there when everybody was gone, just sitting there on the back of the bleacher looking out onto the field. And I’ve got so much respect for him. But Tony (Vitello) and what he’s done is really remarkable. I mean, I keep asking myself many times how has this all come together, it seems quickly, here at the University of Tennessee. 

“But I was asked that question yesterday and it really, it goes back to leadership. We all know that it starts at the top. And I say it every time I get a chance to talk about Randy Boyd and Donde Plowman and Danny White. They’re the ones that have set the bar, set the standard. And there’s a real synergy about what’s going on here within our athletic department. And we’re on a big wave right now. We hope we can turn into a tidal wave.”

On what stands out about the current Tennessee basketball team early in the offseason

“Work ethic. Our older guys I think have done a really good job of coaching our younger guys, great guys that we’ve got coming back. The young guys have a better feel for what’s going on. They’ve all improved and certainly the guys that are new are learning still, but (they have) been great teammates. Very humble, wanting to learn, knowing they’ve got to pick things up quickly. And we’re all excited about what we’ve done up to this point. Yesterday was the first real day that we really went up and down the floor a little bit. But we get back here after (July) fourth. We’ll take it up and notch.”

On why it was important for him to be there for Dalton

“Well, if I let you read the text, I had to go. Dalton really called me and told me, he said, coach, it would mean a lot to me if you would come. And he said, it really would. And I said, you don’t have to say anymore. I’ll be there. And long night for everybody. But it was well worth every minute of it, just really being with him and knowing how hard he worked and how much he loves this university and state of Tennessee and Vol nation. And he kept talking about it. 

If he’s told me once, he’s told me a thousand thousand times, he said, I wish I could go back and do it all over and be at Tennessee four years. But the mark he made in a year is pretty remarkable. And what he did for us is, and the fact, honestly, it touched me that he said, coach, it would mean a lot to me if you come and I said, I’ll be there.”

On how a guy like JJ Redick can maximize Dalton’s ability

“JJ, one, has an incredible work ethic. I can remember him coming in and Coach Lentz was with us at the time too, and coach Lentz would be passing him the ball. It wasn’t where it’s supposed to be and he (JJ) said, you got to throw it here and he was very organized. Knew exactly what he wanted to get done. And I think just his work ethic, I think he’s gonna love that about Dalton because Dalton is going to be in the gym as much as JJ was. And I think JJ will pick up on that really quick.  And the fact is Dalton has watched tape of him. I think JJ will talk to him about even getting more scrappy and what he’s going to have to do to become even a better player in all areas of the game.”

On if summer is more important now with blending new transfer portal talent with returning guys

“Well, I do. I mean, I think every year you’ve got to continue to get better and, we really are excited about what we have. And some guys have made surprised us a little bit, everyone that we’ve gotten.

“I think every summer is important. And right now as a coaching staff, we really put so much emphasis on each individual guy in terms of trying to get that person to understand how we see him right now to keep building roles and keep getting guys to understand what they need to do to take the next step to get better and help our team. And so we spend a lot of time, not just on the court, but talking, and obviously it’s a big summer in the weight room. They’re up there right now and we feel like we got to put weight on certain guys and certain guys we need to get them to where they have just their cardio goes up to a whole different level. And I would tell you that the new guys that are here would tell you that it’s been totally different for him. They would tell you it’s been good for him, but it’s something that they’ve never done up to this point.”

On if his transfer portal philosophy has changed in recent years, because of Dalton Knecht

“Well, I think we’re like anybody, when we got in and we— I mean everybody just started with not knowing how it was going to work. You certainly realize that you’re gonna have to make adjustments. I think in sports, I mean, I go back to just like recruiting. I mean, when I started you could recruit every day of the year. Then he started, no phone calls, this, that. I mean, it’s all about adjustments and not just because of Dalton, I mean with the way that we had guys, as you know, that we didn’t expect to leave, they left. And I think we were in a position because our staff does a great job of trying to stay ahead of everything that we knew that we might have to do this or do that. And I think now with the portal, you really have to expect the unexpected. And with that said, it’s all about adjustment and who knows where it’s gonna go. I don’t think anybody still knows where this whole thing’s gonna lead, but it is what it is right now. And you either embrace it or you fall behind.”

Similar Articles


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tweet Us