Tennessee basketball's Dalton Knecht wins first national award

Dalton Knecht is bringing home his first national award as a Tennessee basketball player after being named the 2023-24 Julius Irving Award winner.
Creighton v Tennessee
Creighton v Tennessee / Mike Mulholland/GettyImages

Tennessee basketball had one of its best seasons in program history this year and went on a run to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament. A large part of Tennessee's success was because of a largely unknown player from Colorado.

That unknown player is Dalton Knecht. Not only did he carry the Vols to an SEC Championship, but he was also named the SEC Player of the Year, a consensus All-American, and now the 2023-24 Julius Irving Award winner. Knecht won the award over Creighton’s Baylor Scheierman, Memphis’ David Jones, Washington’s Keion Brooks and Weber State’s Dillon Jones.

The Julius Irving Award honors the best small forward in college basketball. Media members, head coaches, sports information directors, and members of the Basketball Hall of Fame selected the winner for the annual award.

The award was introduced after the 2014-15 season. The notable winners are Josh Hart and Mikal Bridges from Villanova, Rui Hachimura from Gonzaga, and Jalen Wilson from Kansas, who won the award last year. 

Knecht lit the SEC on fire, scoring 25.5 points per game throughout conference play. He became a different player when we entered January and began SEC play. He had seven 30-point games and one 40-point game on his crazy run through the SEC.

He carried that momentum into the SEC tournament, helping the Vols advance to the Elite Eight for the second time in program history. He scored 26 points per game in the tournament, shooting 41% from the field and 40% from beyond the three-point line.

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There's no doubt Knecht deserves any and every award he is given this year. He has been announced as a finalist for the Naismith and Wooden Awards and will hope to beat out Purdue's Zach Edey for the two big national college basketball awards.