Vol baskets No. 1, Knecht to become millionaire

Marvin Westwestwords

I don’t know C.J. Moore but I know he is a basketball writer for The Athletic. Before that, he worked at Bleacher Report and did something for CBSSports.com and Basketball Prospectus.

He has made a short study of the Kansas Jayhawks but has not told us precisely how coach Bill Self escaped the FBI wiretap and soft NCAA follow-up and secured a lifetime contract.

It seems C.J. may have turned into a Tennessee promoter.


In his very own power ratings, he has the Vols ranked No. 1 in the country. Could be Dalton Knecht is the hook.

“I’m running for president of the Dalton Knecht fan club. He is the All-American no one saw coming. We had Knecht at No. 44 in our transfer portal rankings … Knecht was on a losing team last year and was second-team All-Big Sky at Northern Colorado. Second team!”

Moore and select Tennessee fans are carried away with the multi-talented 6-6 senior who can score in several ways. He has led the Vols in all three victories. He is learning to play defense.

Moore says Knecht will become a first-round NBA draft pick.

Hmmmm, that translates to several million dollars.

There have been many long, high jumps from his start in Fargo, North Dakota, to mediocre academics at Prairie View High School in Thornton, Colo., to Northeastern Junior College in Sterling to the University of Northern Colorado on the edge of Greely, long-ago home of the Ute, Cheyenne, Arapaho and Lakota peoples.

Knecht wanted to go to the big Colorado but settled for less. He loved basketball, worked hard, learned to tell time and grew two inches per year. He peaked in the Big Sky league just in time. Tennessee was looking for a scorer. Knecht is one.

Those from Knecht’s past say he literally lived in the gym. His junior college coach remembers him knocking down jumpers at 2 a.m. Classroom concepts were not out of reach but following through was not a strength. Knecht described himself as a procrastinator.

Rick Barnes will make a difference in Dalton’s life. The coach is a stickler for details, sound on fundamentals and demanding on defense. He wants the big guard to hang more fouls on opposing players and shoot more free throws. Knecht can be a better rebounder and, of course, a better defender.

“All this is new to him,” Barnes said.

The schedule guarantees pro scouts will be looking twice a week. Having the attention of C.J. Moore and The Athletic audience does not hurt.

Tennessee has had the most impressive start to the year, with an exhibition win at Michigan State — which came without Santiago Vescovi and Zakai Zeigler — and the road win at Wisconsin that I bet will age well,” says C.J. “Tennessee still has an awesome defense.

“The Volunteers were probably in the second tier of elite teams coming into the season. Knecht changes the math. The Vols look like they should be one of the country’s best teams, and I’ve bumped them up for actually beating good teams.

“Knecht will be 23 by the time of the NBA draft but I’m calling it now: He’s going to be a first-rounder. Hard to find his combination of size (6-6), athleticism and skill.

“Here’s betting by the end of the Maui Invitational, Knecht is a household name in college hoops.”

I do not want to argue with the illustrious C.J. Moore. He has won writing awards. Mine are out of date. I will whisper that Tennessee has an interesting supporting cast. I am a Ziggy fan. He also had a long commute from there to here.

I really liked decisions by Vescovi and Josiah-Jordan James to play another season with the Volunteers instead of settling for mid-level offers from the NBA.

I believe Tobe Awaka can play. He is a warrior when the ball is coming off the backboard. He helped himself with summer international competition.

Jonas Aidoo blocks shots and affects many he does not touch. Jahmal Mashack gives great effort. I have seen enough of Jordan Gainey to believe he is a shooter. I know he is an athlete.

I am told young Vols have bright futures – if there are enough minutes for them to develop.

I doubt that the Volunteers are the No. 1 team in the country. The AP poll and USAToday say No. 7. I like The Athletic better.

Marvin West welcomes comments or questions from readers. His address is marvinwest75@gmail.com.


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