Busting Brackets

Dalton Knecht's unprecedented path from unknown collegiate athlete to NBA Draft prospect

Saint Peter's v Tennessee
Saint Peter's v Tennessee / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages

Tennessee forward Dalton Knecht was the purest scorer in all of college basketball this year when it came to his full package of attributes. Knecht led Tennessee to the Elite 8 and guided them in a competitive matchup against Purdue, but fell short. Now, the former junior college product will set his sights on the next level, where he has one of the more interesting stories in this year's draft class. 

A common theme is the NBA draft tends to be favoring the young players (18,19, 20 years old) with a lot of room to grow and exponential upside. Well, Knecht is already 23 years old, and for an equivalent, that is older than Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball, Paolo Banchero, Scottie Barnes, Chet Holmgren, and more. 

However, this draft class more than ever has several players who have a lot of collegiate experience, and currently many NBA mock drafts have Knecht going in the lottery due to his NBA size, build, and figure. Knecht stands 6-foot-6, 213 pounds, and has an extremely long wingspan, whose exact measurements remain undetermined until the NBA draft combine. 

His journey to where he is now is one of the most astounding stories this off-season. Knecht played his first two years at Northeastern Junior College; after that, he got a mid-major offer and transferred to the Big Sky to play for Northern Colorado, where he led the conference in scoring with 20.2 points per game. After that stint, Tennessee recruited him in the transfer portal, and the rest was history. He ended up being a finalist for player of the year and averaged 21.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, shot 45.8% from the field, and 39.7% from behind the arc. 

His story is so unique and something that rarely happens. Now, he'll wait to see how NBA scouts view him, but there are many teams with whom he would gel perfectly because of his offensive skillset. His defense needs work, but NBA coaches and the style of defense played in the NBA could be something that can be a quick fix. 

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CBS Sports has Knecht going 14th overall to the New Orleans Pelicans, while NBA Draft Network has him going third overall to the Charlotte Hornets. His projections are all over the place, and his value and status are very unknown. The NBA Draft combine will be a telling tale on where he may fall in this year's NBA Draft. Being able to see him stacked up against some of the other top prospects and seeing all of his measurements, skill work, and relatability to the NBA style of play will carry a lot of weight about where Knecht could fall in the 2024 NBA Draft.