Assessing Dalton Knecht, Riley Kugel, and Jonas Aidoo

January 16th, 2024

By Alan Lu

Today, I decided to take the time to watch Tennessee’s 6-6 sharpshooting senior swingman, Dalton Knecht, whose generated some draft buzz due to his shooting and scoring prowess this season.  I watched him play against Florida, and he ended up having a terrific, 39-point game, as he made 4 threes, and had 8 rebounds to lead his team to a blowout win over Florida.  Here are my thoughts on how Knecht and other top performers fared in this game, and where they may stack up as prospects for the NBA.

Tennessee’s 6-6 senior swingman, Dalton Knecht scored 39 points and had 8 rebounds in his team’s blowout win over Florida. (Photo: Randy Sartin/USA Today Sports, via Yardbarker)

Dalton Knecht put forth an excellent performance in his team’s blowout win over Florida.  He did a terrific job of shooting and scoring the basketball, and he also made a number of impressive jams in the first half to help his team in this game.

Knecht was terrific in knocking down jumpers to provide floor spacing for his team on offense.  He excelled at moving quickly off the ball and running off ball screens to make corner threes, and he showed that he is a gifted marksman off the catch.  He also was able to go to his left and pull up to make a deep three-pointer another time.  Plus, he also showed a knack for making smooth, pull-up, mid-range jumpers.

He also showed a solid ability to score off the dribble.  Knecht can maneuver his way into the lane to score on crafty drives to the hoop, as he showed a solid blend of strength, shooting touch, and finishing ability.  He doesn’t possess elite foot speed, but he generally excelled at scoring around the basket.  Plus, Knecht also excelled at scoring on turnaround, fadeaway jumpers out of the post.  

Also, Knecht generally thrived at scoring on hustle plays.  In this game, he was able to throw down some impressive dunks off of motion plays.  Knecht was able to run in to score on emphatic tip slam off of an offensive rebound.  He also managed to score on a turnaround dunk off of a backdoor cut in traffic.  Plus, he also managed to score on a strong left-handed drive in transition.  However, sometimes he would tend to take tough shots in traffic, which would occasionally lead to some misses.

He also displayed adequate playmaking skills.  Knecht is an unselfish player that can make passes off the dribble, and he was able to make a drop off pass to a teammate on a short roll to notch an assist.  On the downside, sometimes he would tend to over-dribble, and on one play, he had a ball stolen away from him when handling it to commit a turnover.

Plus, Knecht showed a good ability to rebound the basketball.  He did a good job of hauling in boards on both ends of the floor.  He also played satisfactory defense in this game.  Knecht would contest jumpers to force misses, and he would actively contest jump shots to get stops for his team.  Despite not having elite lateral quickness, he would use his length and positioning to stay in front of his man on most possessions, which would enable him to help his team get stops.  On the downside, there was one play where he got beat off the dribble, which led him to allow a score.

In general, Dalton Knecht was superb in his team’s blowout win over Florida.  He is a very skilled swingman that is a better athlete than advertised, and he did a great job of making plays on offense when he was on the floor.  His advanced age may suggest that he may be close to being topped out as an overall prospect, but Knecht could still be a solid pick for an NBA team in the first round, as he could end up being a solid player similar to Cleveland Cavaliers’ guard, Wesley Person in the NBA.

Florida’s 6-5 sophomore guard, Riley Kugel had a solid showing in his team’s loss to Tennessee.  It was surprising that he came off the bench, given that he is thought to be his team’s best draft prospect, but he still excelled as a shooter and scorer on the floor, and he also was able to make some sterling defensive plays in this game.

Kugel excelled as a shooter and scorer on offense.  He was able to make threes both off the catch and dribble, which included one where he moved off the ball to make a deep three.  He also was able to score on a dunk off of a drive in transition, and he also was able to pull up to make a mid-range jumper.  On the downside, he would sometimes take tough, contested shots off the dribble, which led to some misses.

As a playmaker, he looked to be about average at best.  On one hand, he was able to find a shooter to notch an assist once.  However, he was a bit turnover prone.  He threw a hard, inaccurate pass off the dribble that sailed out of bounds.  Another time, he lost the handle when dribbling it, which led to another turnover.

Though he didn’t grab many rebounds in this game, Kugel was able to get several boards for his team.  He also played adequate defense.  Kugel did a good job of quickly jumping on passes to get steals, which would enable him to create fast break opportunities for his team.  However, he struggled to defend in one-on-one situations, and his lack of size would make it difficult for him to ably contest shots.  He fouled in an opponent in the post, which led his man to score on a fadeaway jumper.  He also struggled to stay with a shooter when he and his team were defending a screen, which led them to give up a three-point basket.

In summary, Riley Kugel played well in this game, and if anything, he should’ve played more in his tema’s loss to Tennessee.  He is an athletic guard that can shoot, score, and defend, and he could be a solid pick for an NBA team in the late first to the second round range of the 2024 draft, as he could end up being a similar player to New York Knicks’ guard, Quentin Grimes in the association.

Jonas Aidoo had a solid showing in his team’s win over Florida.  He is a strong, mobile center that thrived at making plays to help his team shore up the paint, and he also showed a solid mid-range jump shot to help his team get the victory.

Aidoo excelled at scoring out of the post.  He would make strong moves, which would usually enable him to score on jump hooks.  He also showed a good shooting touch, as he would get into the open spots of the floor to knock down mid-range jumpers.  He also would look to score on put backs and rolls to the rim.  Sometimes though, he would rush his shots, which would lead to misses.  He attempted a couple of threes, but was unable to make them from beyond the arc.

He also showed off satisfactory playmaking skills.  Aidoo did a good job of passing out of the post to find open shooters, which enabled him to notch a pair of assists.  On one play though, he was called for an offensive foul and a turnover after lowering his shoulder into an opponent when posting up.

Plus, he also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was very active at crashing the glass as he hauled in many boards on both ends of the floor, especially on the offensive end.  He also played fairly solid defense.  Aidoo was able to block a midrange jump shot.  He also would tie up opposing ball handlers to make it difficult for them to handle the ball, and it helped him get a steal once.  He also would use his length to contest shots to force misses.  On the downside, he would tend to bite on pump fakes when defending opponents off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls.

Overall, Jonas Aidoo played well to help his team get the win, and he is a fairly athletic, skilled big man that generally excelled at making plays on both ends of the floor.  He is having a very good season this year, and he could end up being a good find for an NBA team in the 2024 draft, as he could project to be a solid rotational big man in the NBA.

Josiah James had a decent showing in his team’s win over Florida.  He is a strong, mobile swingman that has a variety of skills that enable him to be a useful role player in games.  Though he rarely looked to shoot and score the basketball, he thrived in the other facets of the game.

James didn’t look to shoot the ball often, but he was able to make an open spot-up three off the catch.  He didn’t really look to create his own shot off the dribble though, and he was fairly streaky as an outside shooter in this game.

He is an unselfish player that can make passes off the dribble, and he was able to find open shooters to notch assists.  On one play though, he threw one pass too high, which sailed out of bounds that time.

James did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He also played satisfactory defense.  James was able to intercept a pass to get a steal, and he has good instincts that enable him to force turnovers.  He also was able to contest a corner three to force a miss.  On one play late in the game though, he didn’t actively contest a shot when defending in the post, which led his team to give up the basket.

Overall, even though Josiah James didn’t really stand out that much in this game, he did a good job of making team plays to help Tennessee get the win in this game.  He’ll still need to be a more assertive player and consistent shooter on offense, but his versatility could enable him to make his way to the NBA someday.

Florida’s 6-10 senior big man, Tyrese Samuel had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Tennessee.  He is an athletic, energetic forward that was able to get a double-double in this game, but he struggled to consistently make shots, especially from the outside, and he also fouled out towards the game’s end.

Samuel looked to be at his best when he would look to score on hustle plays.  He would score on some strong put backs, and there was one play where he scored off of an offensive rebound while getting fouled.  He also managed to use a quick ball fake to draw free throws off of a roll to the rim.  Plus, he was able to draw free throws on a drive, as he got a bail out call despite appearing to miss wildly on that play.

While he was able to score on a jump hook out of the post, Samuel struggled to consistently score from the block.  He also missed both of his three-point attempts, and though it’s encouraging that he will take those shots, he needs to do a better job of making them when he is on the floor.

He looked to be about average at best as a playmaker.  Samuel was able to find a teammate on the move when passing the ball once, and he may be an underrated passer for his size.  On the downside, he can tend to struggle to protect the ball when looking to score, as he would get tied up when doing so, which would lead him prone to turning the ball over.

Plus, he also did a great job of rebounding the basketball.  Defensively, he looked to be about average.  On one good play, he was able to intercept a pass to get a steal, and Samuel is an athletic big man that can make plays defensively.  However, he also was quite foul prone in this game.

Overall, Tyrese Samuel had his ups and downs, but he was able to have some solid moments at times in this game.  His size, athleticism, and motor could enable him to get looks from NBA teams at the next level.  He will need to continually improve as an overall player, but if so, he could end up making his way to the NBA someday.All in all, those are my thoughts on how Dalton Knecht, Riley Kugel, Jonas Aidoo, and others fared in this game.  Thanks for reading.

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