Dalton Knecht of Tennessee is selected by the LA Lakers with the 17th pick in the 2024 NBA Draft

Dalton Knecht of Tennessee is selected by the LA Lakers with the 17th pick in the 2024 NBA Draft

In the NBA draft on Wednesday night, the Lakers selected Dalton Knecht with the 17th overall pick. Knecht has emerged as the largest single-season success story in Tennessee men’s basketball history. Since Marcus Haislip was selected 13th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2002, the 6-foot-6, 212-pound player is the highest-drafted Volunteer since then.

Knecht stated on the ESPN broadcast, “It’s a dream come true and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” It truly is a blessing. All I can say is that. I have no idea what to say, but I’m eager to go to work.”

 

Knecht played two seasons in the Big Sky Conference at Northern Colorado after two years in junior college. In 2022–2023 he averaged 20.2 points per game. After that, he moved to Knoxville, where he excelled right away. In the previous season, he averaged 21.7 points per game, which helped him win the Southeastern Conference player of the year award.

Leading the way was Knecht, who helped the Vols finish with a 27-9 record, which included an SEC regular-season title and an Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA tournament. Referring to the book and film “The Natural,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas remarked, “He’s the Roy Hobbs of college basketball.” “He came out of nowhere to be a first-team All-American.”

 

Numerous sources had Knecht rated as a top-10 pick. On the show, Jonathan Givony, another ESPN analyst, mentioned that some NBA general managers were more interested in selecting youngsters and their potential upside than in selecting the 23-year-old Knecht, who has more experience.

Knecht’s 21.7-point clip put him in fourth place among players who averaged more than 20 points while playing for the Vols, behind only Allan Houston (21.9), Bernard King (25.8), and Ernie Grunfeld (22.3). He is the only player from Tennessee to score thirty points or more in five straight games.

 

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