The massive week for Tennessee basketball continues — Dalton Knecht is a Vol. The Northern Colorado transfer picked Tennessee over Oregon on Friday night, giving Rick Barnes another piece of his 2023-24 puzzle.
Knecht joins Jordan Gainey (USC Upstate) and Chris Ledlum (Harvard) in Tennessee’s portal class. Tennessee also received word that Santiago Vescovi would be returning for one more season.
Josiah-Jordan James and Julian Phillips are going through the NBA Draft process, both with the option of returning to Knoxville. However, grabbing Knecht here would seem to suggest that the staff doesn’t expect them back. We’ll see.
Knecht, a 6-6 wing, is the top-ranked small forward in the portal, per 247Sports. He’s the ninth best player overall. Knecht averaged 20.2 points and 7.2 rebounds last season for Northern Colorado. He shot 47.9 percent from the field, including hitting on 38 percent of his three-point attempts.
Knecht was 5-8 as a sophomore in high school. He shot up to 6-1 during his junior year, then grew another two inches at the JUCO level. Knecht tacked on another three inches by the time he got to Northern Colorado, meaning that now 6-6 frame has some small-guard ball handling skills. The added length has helped him in the rebounding category, doubling his production in that category from his junior to his senior year.
Knecht’s shooting is what made him such a hot commodity, however. It’s clear that the staff wanted to add shooting, and they’ve done that here with Knecht and Gainey. Returning Vescovi will obviously help in that category too.
So Tennessee has officially reloaded with three small school transfers. Can Rick Barnes turn his portal success around? Tennessee’s 2023-24 season likely depends on it.