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Here's who Suns fans should be watching during March Madness

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Here's who Suns fans should be watching during March Madness


Believe it or not, the Phoenix Suns are slated to have a first-round pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, and they could end up selecting one of the stars of the NCAA Tournament which starts this week.

As things currently stand, Phoenix still holds four first rounders between the 2024 and 2030 drafts, although they don’t have sole possession of any.

For 2024, the Suns will take the least favorable first rounder between the Memphis Grizzlies’ pick, the Washington Wizards’ pick and their own. Right now, the least favorable of the three is their own, sitting at No. 19 after the loss on Sunday to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Here are some players who could have a big impact in March Madness before being in play at No. 19 — or wherever the Suns’ pick ends up.

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Dalton Knecht, Tennessee, No. 13 on ESPN’s Top 100

Knecht has the best chance to knock off Purdue big man Zach Edey for National Player of the Year with how he’s led Tennessee this season.

The 6-foot-6, 213-pound wing has worked his way up through junior college to low-major Northern Colorado and now to Tennessee where he led the Volunteers to the SEC regular season title.

The fifth-year senior enters the tournament averaging 21.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists on a career best 39.7% on 6.2 3s per game.

First March Madness matchup: No. 2 Tennessee vs. No. 15 Saint Peter’s on Thursday at 6:20 p.m. on TNT.

Ryan Dunn, Virginia, No. 20 on The Athletic’s mock draft (to Phoenix at the time)

The 6-foot-8, 216-pound sophomore doesn’t offer a ton offensively, but he may be the best defender in the country, with the toughness to hang with bigger players as well.

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Dunn is a career 24% shooter on 3s but is a much better 61.9% on 2s. He also blocks nearly 2.5 shots per game in just 27.6 minutes, including five against Duke a couple weeks ago.

First March Madness matchup: No. 10 Virginia vs. No. 10 Colorado State on Tuesday at 6:10 p.m. on truTV.

DaRon Holmes II, Dayton, No. 25 on The Athletic’s mock draft

After starring at Millennium High in Goodyear and AZ Compass Prep in Chandler, Holmes has dominated the A-10 for three seasons now, showing a smooth and versatile game that not many bigs have.

This season, Holmes added a 3-point shot and is hitting 38.5% on 2.5 attempts at 6-foot-10. He attempted just 26 over his first two seasons combined. Averaging over 20 points and two blocks per game, he’s poised to take the Flyers on a run.

First March Madness matchup: No. 7 Dayton vs. No. 10 Nevada on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. on TBS.

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Phoenix is without a second-round pick in this draft because it was rescinded after the league found the Suns to have tampered in acquiring Drew Eubanks last summer.

They do have to fill out a G League roster for next season though, so general manager James Jones may end up bringing in undrafted rookies, something he hasn’t really done in his tenure.

Here are some players Jones and the Suns could be looking at in the tournament.

Alex Karaban, UConn, No. 50 on ESPN’s Top 100

Shooting is the big draw for this 6-foot-8 redshirt sophomore who shot 39.8% on nearly 350 attempts over the two seasons he played for the Huskies, with a chance to have championship rings in each season.

UConn’s offense is probably the closest to an NBA offense in all of the field, and Karaban’s ability to connect within that offense — career 3.1 assists per 100 possessions — should endear him to NBA front offices.

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First March Madness matchup: No. 1 UConn vs. No. 16 Stetson on Friday at 11:45 a.m. on CBS.

Tyon Grant-Foster, Grand Canyon, unranked

One of the best stories in college basketball because of the medical hardships he has endured, the 6-foot-7 wing is versatile on offense and obsessive on defense.

Grant-Foster is one of the best in the country at getting to the line and creating his own shot in the mid-range, averaging over three stocks (steals plus blocks) on the other end.

He would make for a great marquee headliner for the Suns’ G League team as he develops into a potential difference-maker for the Suns, where his cousin Ish Wainright is on a two-way contract.

First March Madness matchup: No. 12 Grand Canyon vs. No. 5 St. Mary’s on Friday at 7:05 p.m. on truTV.

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Tennessee

False spring? Dogwood winter? What to expect from the 6 little winters of East Tennessee

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False spring? Dogwood winter? What to expect from the 6 little winters of East Tennessee


It might officially be spring − the spring equinox was March 20 − but the season that traditionally heralds the start of warmer weather just hits different in East 2Tennessee.

Spring in Appalachia means it’s 80 degrees and sunny one day, thunderstorms the next and maybe some extra-frosty weather on the third day just to keep you guessing.

And that probably is why there are a reputed six “little winters” in East Tennessee. If you’re originally from an area where the weather is a little more predictable, here’s an explainer as to what a little winter is, and when to expect those mini bursts of cold and rain. Be warned, though: Even longtime Tennessee residents have been known to argue these points.

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What is a little winter?

According to Farmer’s Almanac, little winters are much like “badger summers” − a period of unseasonable warmth in the middle of autumn. Little winters are periods of springtime cold.

“Though predictable, the climb from cold of winter to the warmth of summer and back again is not completely smooth,” the Farmer’s Almanac website says, adding that these small “blips” in the overall pattern reveal noticeable fluctuations that can be observed from year to year and are actually called singularities.

The “little winters” in the middle of spring are called variously Dogwood Winter, Blackberry Winter, Locust Winter, Whippoorwill Winter, Redbud Winter and a few other regional variations, the almanac states.

What are the six little winters of East Tennessee?

The Tennessee Historical Society says the state’s farming folk named little winters for their correspondence to natural, and in one case cultural, phenomena. The little winters occur later in the spring in the higher elevations of East Tennessee’s mountains, of course, compared to a much earlier time frame in Middle or West Tennessee.

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  • Locust Winter – Some connect this little winter to when leaves start to appear on locust trees in April, and others to when the trees bloom in May.
  • Redbud Winter – Early April, when the redbud trees bloom.
  • Dogwood Winter – Mid- to late April, when the dogwood trees bloom. Often a heavy frost falls in dogwood winter.
  • Blackberry Winter – Early to mid-May, when blackberries are in full bloom. In the Tennessee mountains, this often coincides with the last frost of spring, which can kill new plantings on the farm.
  • Whippoorwill Winter –Mid- to late May, when the whippoorwills can first be heard in the twilight of evenings and before dawn. Sometimes, this is reversed with Cotton Britches Winter.
  • Cotton Britches Winter – Late May or early June, when the linsey-woolsey (linen and wool) pants worn in cold weather were put away and farmers changed to the light cotton pants of summer.

Is East Tennessee in the middle of a Dogwood Winter?

It’s definitely been colder than “normal” in East Tennessee, according to the National Weather Service. On Monday, the Morristown office stated temperatures will remain 5 to 10 degrees below normal through the day. Temperatures were expected to return to near normal by Tuesday with a chance of rain Tuesday night into Wednesday.

A Hazardous Weather Outlook was issued Monday, with frost possible again Monday night but more isolated and not as widespread due to slightly warmer overnight temperatures. The forecast calls for highs in the lower 70s Tuesday and Wednesday, gradually warming into the high 70s by Friday.

Liz Kellar is a Tennessee Connect reporter. Email liz.kellar@knoxnews.com.

Support strong local journalism by subscribing at knoxnews.com/subscribe. 



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Tennessee baseball powers through series win against Kentucky

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Tennessee baseball powers through series win against Kentucky


Tennessee baseball picks up another SEC series win after winning two out of three against No. 3 Kentucky in Lexington. This makes for the Vols’ fifth-straight SEC series win as they improve to 33-7 on the season and 12-6 in conference play.

Kentucky received a huge jump in the top-25 rankings and jumped the Vols as the Cats moved up to No. 3, and the Vols stayed at No. 4 last week. The Vols should be scheduled to move up to No. 3 and, after another series win, could make the case to move up higher than that.

Christian Moore had a huge weekend and was the deciding factor in Tennessee’s win in the rubber match on Sunday. He started off the scoring on Sunday with a home run in the third inning to put up Tennessee 2-0 and followed that up with two more home runs in the sixth and eighth innings to tie the game and give Tennessee the lead that would give them the win.

Moore also put his name in the record books, tying the single-game home run record for a Vol. He also hit his 45th and 46th career home runs, lifting him above Blake Burke for the career home run record with 44 home runs.

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Both Moore and Burke homered early in Saturday’s game to give the Vols an early lead, but Moore has made the home run race a bit more interesting with his Sunday performance. Four weeks remain in the season, so we could see these two battle it out the rest of the way for the bragging rights at the top of the Vols’ all-time list.

Last weekend, Tennessee and LSU faced off in a pitching matchup. Although the Vols’ bats weren’t nearly as hot as this weekend, they put together a dominant performance against one of the best teams in the SEC.

The Vols didn’t disappoint again this weekend. They used their bats to overwhelm the Kentucky pitching staff and win two out of three on the road.

There were whispers from national writers and outlets that claimed Tennessee wouldn’t be able to translate their scoring at the plate because of Kentucky’s much larger ballpark. They proved that theory false, outscoring the Cats 27-18.

Next. Jaylen Wright finds perfect landing spot in latest mock draft. Jaylen Wright finds perfect landing spot in latest mock draft. dark

Tennessee has now won nine of its last ten games and is one of the hottest teams in baseball. The Vols will invite Missouri to Knoxville on Friday for their next SEC series. They look to continue their hot streak against a struggling Missouri team that is coming off a series loss to LSU.

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Kentucky baseball drops game three, series against Tennessee

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Kentucky baseball drops game three, series against Tennessee


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WYMT) – Despite a pair of Wildcat home runs in the bottom of the ninth, No. 3 Kentucky baseball dropped game three to No. 4 Tennessee 13-11 at Kentucky Proud Park on Sunday afternoon, handing the Bat Cats their first Southeastern Conference series loss of the season.

Tennessee jumped out to a 2-0 lead before Kentucky responded with six straight runs across three innings to eventually take a four-run lead in the fifth. The competition was tied at one point in the sixth inning behind five runs from UT. The Volunteers’, specifically Christian Moore, refused to stop there.

Moore hit three homeruns on the day including a three-run bomb in the eighth inning to put the Vols up 13-9. Moore finished 4-for-5 with six RBI, a double and three homers.

In the ninth inning, Mitchell Daly hit his second home run of the game and Ryan Nicholson put one over the fence to battle back late, but the Vols closed out on a caught pop-fly to lockdown the series.

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The Wildcats are now 15-3 in the SEC and 32-7 overall. Up next, the Cats travel to Columbia, S.C. for another ranked battle. The Wildcats and No. 20 Gamecocks open a three-game series on Friday at 7:00 p.m.



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