Rick Barnes shares what he would tell an NBA team about Dalton Knecht

On3 imageby:Sam Gillenwater04/02/24


Dalton Knecht shined as bright as anyone in college basketball this season in his one year at Tennessee. Now, with a professional career ahead of him, Rick Barnes says whatever team ends up with him is getting a player who, scarily enough, is just scratching the surface.

Barnes spoke about what any team in the NBA would be getting in Knecht at the conclusion of the Volunteers’ season after their 72-66 loss to Purdue in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. He noted Knecht’s obvious offensive prowess but added that he is just beginning to realize his potential on that end.

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“Well, he’s only getting started. He’s just getting started,” said Barnes. “I mean, offensively, he’s going to continue to get better there. He’s what I would call a flamethrower. He gets his shot off. You’re not going to affect him with it.”

However, Barnes did say that Knecht will have to continue to improve defensively as he continues on. With that said, though, he realizes how much that Tennessee asked of him on both ends each and every game. That’s why he appreciates the effort that they did get from him on that end.

“Defensively, he knows he’s got to get better there. But I think he would tell you that no one’s asking to maybe do it as hard as we did this year and he responded well,” Barnes said.

“When we have some guys that maybe aren’t having the days that you want them to have and more falls on him offensively, I’m really impressed with his cardio toughness and the way that he tries to fight through,” added Barnes. “People trying to make him guard, which people are going to do that too. Screening him, doing all kind of things.”

Knecht transferred to Tennessee last offseason after two seasons at Northern Colorado and the two before at Northeastern Junior College. With that said, no one knew what the Vols would be getting out of the portal once he arrived.

Knecht went on to average 21.7 points and 4.9 rebounds over 36 games during his fifth-year season. He did so while shooting 45.8% from the field and 39.7% from three on 2.6 triples a game. In total, he had 19 outings of 20-plus points and eight games of 30-plus points. He also had one outing of a career-high of 40 points.

All this led him to earning the honor of being SEC Player of the Year, being an All-American, and racing for National Player of the Year. It also helped the Volunteers to a record of 27-9. That earned them the regular-season title in the Southeastern Conference, a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and their second-ever Elite Eight in program history.

Knecht put up a massive season on Rocky Top to put him on radars for the 2024 NBA Draft. Still, whatever team picks him will actually be getting an even better player than the one that played in Knoxville this past season with how Barnes expects him to continue to develop in his career.

“He’s a young, 22-year-old kid that’s really just getting started,” Barnes said. “He loves the game. He works at it. It’s going to be fun going forward to watch how much he improves.”