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LeBron James: Dalton Knecht My Favorite Player in College Basketball Besides Bronny James

Lebron James Dalton Knecht
Los Angeles Lakers forward Lebron James talks about Dalton Knecht. Photo via @ArashMarkazi on X.

LeBron James apparently had his eye on Rick Barnes’ Tennessee Volunteers during the 2023-2024 college basketball season.

And he apparently liked what he saw from the Vols’ scoring wing Dalton Knecht.

During an interview after a Team USA Basketball practice over the weekend, James was asked about Knecht’s addition to the Los Angeles Lakers via the No. 17 overall pick.

“Throughout the course of the college season, Dalton – besides Bronny – was my favorite player in college basketball,” James said during the interview. “Watched his games throughout the whole season and just liked his ability to shoot the ball, his athleticism, his height and the demeanor that he plays with… I think his game will translate to the NBA.”

While the two are now teammates on the Lakers, it wasn’t the first time that James had spoken about the former Vol. James mentioned Knecht during an interview in March after the Vols’ loss to Purdue in the Elite Eight.

“You’re going to watch Purdue because of Zach Edey,” James said on the star power in the NCAA tournament. “Because he’s a great player. We watched that Purdue-Tennessee game because of Zach Edey and Knecht. Players, depending on who they are, will drive the attention.”

James’ larger-than-life status in American sports and his comments on Knecht caught the attention of the former Vol. Knecht mentioned seeing the clip when it came out during his post-draft Lakers press conference from Brooklyn.

“I remember that clip,” Knecht said. “I woke up, rolled out of bed, and I thought it was fake because tons of people were texting me and I was like, ‘there’s no way.’ When I watched that video, it just brought a smile to my face. And also my parents, they called me right away to tell me about it. It’s going to be fun just sharing that court with both of them, AD [Anthnoy Davis] and Bron. Bron is one of the greatest so it’s going to be real special.”

More from RTI: Dalton Knecht Throws Down Dunk in Traffic During Summer League Action

Knecht, the reigning SEC Player of the Year, was a projected lottery pick entering the draft on June 26. But as the first 10 picks went by, an eery feeling came about of Knecht’s potential slide. The Lakers stopped the fall at pick 17, though, with many saying that Knecht was the steal of the draft.

James was one of the many who were surprised by the slide on draft night but isn’t complaining anymore.

“I did not think he would fall to No. 17 at all,” James said during his interview. “So I didn’t think we would have an opportunity to get him.”

Knecht began his summer league start with two games over the weekend as the Lakers fell to the Kings and the Warriors in the California Classic. Knecht put up 12 points in both games but struggled to shoot the ball with a combined 6-of-25 shooting from the floor. The former Vol did have some electric moments, though, including a dunk in traffic against the Warriors and a pair of nice half-court assists in transition.

A slow start in the summer league – heck, before the true summer league even officially begins – is nothing to worry about for a mature player of Knecht’s status. The Lakers are extremely high on what James watched throughout the spring with Knecht’s impressive ability to dominate the college game.

Here’s a look at what the Lakers are getting with the reigning SEC Player of the Year Dalton Knecht:

James’ full Team USA interview can be seen below:

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