Observing Dalton Knecht, Josiah Jordan-James, and Baylor Scheierman in the Tennessee-Creighton Game

March 30th, 2024

By Alan Lu

Yesterday, I took the time to watch Dalton Knecht and Tennessee face off against Creighton in a very competitive, Sweet 16 game in the 2024 NCAA Tournament.  Both teams traded leads back and forth, but Knecht and Tennessee made key buckets and crucial stops to help their team defeat Creighton.  Here are my thoughts on how Knecht and other various prospects performed in this game.

Tennessee’s 6-6 senior swingman, Dalton Knecht scored 24 points, and had 6 rebounds and 5 assists to lead his team to an 82-75 win over Creighton yesterday. (Photo: Paul Sancya/Associated Press, via The Seattle Times)

Dalton Knecht played well to help lead his team to a win over Creighton.  He put forth a strong all-around showing, and he still was able to make some big shots, even when Creighton’s defense was really focused on guarding him while applying a box-and-1 defense on them to try to make things more difficult for him.

Knecht did a very good job of knocking down threes to provide floor spacing for his team on offense.  He was able to make threes both off the catch and dribble, and he especially excelled at making spot-up threes.  He also was able to run the floor to make an open three on the break.  He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  Knecht would drive up the court to score in transition, and he also was able to draw free throws on a put back.  Knecht was able to make a pair of pull-up, mid-range jumpers, and he also was able to score on a strong, baseline drive in traffic.  However, he struggled to knock down mid-range jumpers or score off the dribble consistently, which hurt his shooting percentages in this game.

Also, Knecht showcased good playmaking skills.  He passed the ball very well, and he excelled at making quick, drive and kick passes as well as passes on the break to set up scores for his teammates.  He also did an adequate job of rebounding the basketball.  He was able to crash the glass to haul in boards on both ends of the floor.  

He also played adequate defense in this game.  Knecht showed a knack for blocking and altering shots off of drives due to possessing solid athleticism, timing, and instincts.  He generally excelled at rotating to contest shots off the dribble to force misses.  He also would get his hands on passes to get steals and force passing turnovers.  On the downside, he would sag too far off of shooters to allow opponents to score on three-point shots.  Other times, he would struggle to defend opponents off the dribble, which would lead his team to end up being out of position defensively.

In general,  Dalton Knecht had a solid showing in this game to help lead his team to a decisive win over Creighton.  What was impressive about his performance in this game was that he still was able to make solid plays and keep his team ahead all while Creighton put a Box-and-1 defense on him to try to throw him off, and yet Knecht still made it very difficult for his opponents due to his shot-making and all-around play.  He’s been one of the best players both in college basketball and prospects for the draft, and he’s a likely lottery pick in the 2024 draft.

Josiah Jordan-James scored 17 points to help lead Tennessee to a win last night. (Photo: Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics, via Rocky Top Insider)

Josiah Jordan-James also played well to help lead his team to a win over Creighton.  He especially thrived as a shooter and scorer in this game, and he made some very solid plays on both ends of the floor to help get his team the victory. Jordan-James shot the ball very well from downtown.  He especially thrived at making open, spot-up threes off the catch, as he showed a knack for making corner threes.  He also showed off some low post scoring skills, as he was able to score on a turnaround jumper.  Plus, he also passed the ball well, and he would swing the ball to find the open man to notch assists.

Also, he was able to get boards on both ends of the floor to help chip in on the glass.  However, there was one play where a ball went off his hands on a defensive rebound and to an opponent next to him instead, and he ended up fouling him on a put back to also give up the basket.  Jordan-Jones defended well.  He was able to rotate to block a shot to help his team protect the paint.  He also would contest jumpers to force misses due to possessing good length, positioning, and instincts.

Overall, Jordan-James quietly had a strong showing to help lead his team to a win over Creighton.  He’s been a very good role player for Tennessee this year, and while he may not look to create his own shot that much, he could be a solid second round pick at the next level, and his solid all-around play could enable him to excel as a role player in the NBA.

Baylor Scheierman scored 25 points in his team’s loss to Tennessee. (Photo: Duane Burleson/Associated Press, via WREG.com)

Baylor Scheierman also played well in his team’s loss to Tennessee.  He especially shot the ball well in the first half, and his sterling offensive play helped keep his team in the game. Scheierman showed a solid ability to knock down threes from beyond the arc.  He was able to make threes both off the catch and dribble.  He also showed that he can score on hustle plays.  He was able to score on a strong put back while getting fouled, and he also managed to draw free throws after running the floor to get the ball on the break.  He also showed off decent low post scoring skills.  He was able to get deep position to score on a turnaround, fadeaway jump hook.  He also utilized a strong drop step move and a pump fake to score through the contract another time.  He also was able to score on a running floater off the dribble.  However, he also would tend to take tough, off-balanced shots in traffic, which would lead to misses.

Ryan Kalkbrenner had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Tennessee.  On one hand, he was able to make some impressively athletic plays by catching lobs to score on alley-oop dunks, and he would use his size, athleticism, and instincts to swat shots at the rim.  However, he struggled to score out of the post, and his team struggled to create easy scoring chances as their offense would bog down by continually attempting to feed him on the block, even when he was struggling to score out of the post late in the game.

Kalkbrenner generally excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He showed a knack for scoring on rolls to the rim, as he would catch lobs to score on high-flying, alley-oop dunks.  He also managed to score on a put back.  He also flashed some low post scoring skills.  He was able to spin baseline to score on a strong dunk.  He also managed to score on a jump hook, as well as on a drop step move other times.  However, he often struggled to score on jump hooks, and he struggled to find his scoring touch down the stretch.

As a playmaker, he looked to be about average.  On one play, he looked to have an open dunk, but he passed up the opportunity to try to score that time by suddenly passing the ball despite being open at the rim.  On another play though, he threw a terrible crosscourt pass that ended up getting intercepted that led to fast break points the other way.

He was able to get his fair share of rebounds, but it was not enough for a 7-1 senior center in this game.  Defensively, he looked to be fairly average.  For the positives, he would rotate and hustle to spots to block shots at the rim to help his team protect the paint.  He also was able block a dunk attempt early on.  Plus, Kalkbrenner would hold his ground and contest shots when defending in the post to force misses.  However, he often would give up open jump shots when defending on pick and rolls, as he wouldn’t step up on switches, which would lead his team to give up open mid-range baskets.  He also would often sag too far off his man, which would lead his team to constantly give up open jump shots.  He also got outmuscled by an opponent on a roll, which led him to commit a foul and allow a score that time.

Overall, Kalkbrenner didn’t have his best game, but he showed that he is a 7-1 center that has the athleticism to make plays on the interior on both ends of the floor.  He’ll need to continue to expand his game offensively and improve his ability to guard shooters and players out on the perimeter, but he is a second round prospect that could project well into a rotational big man role at the NBA level.

Zakai Zeigler also had a strong showing to help lead Tennessee to a decisive win over Creighton.  He is an agile, feisty playmaker that excelled at making plays on both ends of the floor to help his team in this game. Zeigler shot the ball very well, especially from the outside.  He showed a knack for making open, spot-up threes off the catch, and he was able to run off a ball screen to make a three early on.  He also showed a knack for dribbling to make pull-up mid-range jumpers and floaters in the lane, and he would take advantage of Creighton’s drop coverage scheme to make open mid-range shots consistently.  He also passed and handled the ball well.  He did a good job of throwing accurate passes, especially when dribbling off of screens to find teammates on the move to notch assists.  On one play though when handling the ball, he was called for traveling due to take one too many steps.

He also did an adequate job of rebounding the basketball.  Zeigler also defended very well.  He is a feisty, pesky defender that would hound opposing ball handlers, and he would poke balls away to get steals.  He also was able to deflect a pass to nearly get another steal, and he is a pesky defender that can defend all 94 feet.

Overall, Zakai Zeigler played very well, and he is a smart, skilled point guard that excelled at making plays on both ends of the floor to help get his team the win.  He is very undersized for his position, but his ability to make winning plays could enable him to project well into a backup point guard role at the NBA level.

Steven Ashworth also had a fairly solid showing in Creighton’s loss to Tennessee.  He shot the ball well and generally made solid passes in this game, and aside from throwing up a terribly rushed, airball late in the game, he excelled as an offensive player in this game.

Ashworth shot the ball well, especially from the outside.  He showed a knack for making threes, as he showed that he can make them quickly off the catch and dribble.  He was able to make a deep three to show off his range.  He also ran quickly off the ball to make a corner three, and he used a pump fake to make a pull-up three on the break.  Plus, Ashworth was able to run quickly off a ball screen to make a mid-range jumper.  He was able to score on a strong, left-handed drive to show off his ability to score off the dribble, but had a shot blocked another time.

He also generally passed and handled the ball well.  He was able to make an assortment of passes to set up scoring chances for his teammates.  However, there was one play where he threw a long, inaccurate pass that sailed out of bounds.  He also was able to chip in to get his fair share of boards.  Defensively, he struggled though, as he had trouble staying in front of his man and his team would their opponents to score on floaters.

Overall, Ashworth played fairly well, and he is an agile, skilled point guard that can shoot and pass the basketball.   He will need to improve his defense and lacks ideal size or physical tools, but he is a skilled playmaker that could project into a backup point guard role in the NBA.

Trey Alexander didn’t have a great game in his team’s loss to Tennessee.  He really struggled to make shots for most of the game, and aside from making two threes late in the contest, he didn’t play very well overall. He would often miss on dribble, mid-range jumpers, and he generally had trouble scoring off the dribble.  He was able to score on a strong acrobatic, reverse layup off the dribble while getting fouled once.  He also made two late threes, but generally Alexander would take tough, contested shots that would often lead to misses.

He also showcased satisfactory playmaking skills. He was able to make an assortment of passes to set up scores for his teammates, and he was able to throw a lob pass to a roll man to notch an assist once.  However, when handling the ball once, it was poked away from him that led to a turnover.

He also showed a solid ability to rebound the basketball.  However, he struggled defensively.  On one good play, he rotated to poke a ball away to nearly get a steal.  However, he struggled to defend opponents off the dribble and in the post, which would lead him to commit fouls. He also pushed an opponent on an offensive rebound to commit a foul.  Another time, he didn’t stay attached to a shooter, which led him to give up an open three-point basket.

Overall, Alexander didn’t play very well, and he may need to stay in school another year to hone his game.  He needs to improve his shooting and shot selection, and he will need to show NBA teams that he can reliably run the point and be a better decision maker in games.  If he does go to the draft, he would be a borderline second round candidate, and if he chooses to stay in the 2024 draft, he may make a pit stop and play well in the G-League or overseas before being able to make the transition to play in the NBA.

All in all, those are my thoughts on how Dalton Knecht and other variously prospects fared in this game. Thanks for reading.

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