Who’s Got Next? Kentucky Receives Commitment From Dakari JohnsonPosted by CLykins on January 8th, 2013
Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Chad Lykins, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to discussing the recruitments of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions dedicated solely to Duke Basketball at Duke Hoop Blog. You can also follow Chad at his Twitter account @CLykinsBlog for up-to-date breaking news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: ESPN Recruiting used for all player ranking
Top Center Dakari Johnson Announces For Kentucky
Whether you love them or you loathe them, there is no denying the pure dominance on the recruiting scene in recent years from the Kentucky Wildcats. Since head coach John Calipari took the position in 2009, he has secured the No. 1 recruiting class in three of the past four years — Kentucky’s 2012 class was ranked No. 2 by some outlets — and 12 five-star recruits during that span. However, the Wildcats’ 2013 class is shaping up to be arguably the best recruiting class ever (at least on paper). Entering this past Saturday, Kentucky had a five-man class while still in the mix with four prospects ranked inside the top 15. As the day concluded, that five-man class turned into six as the Wildcats gained a verbal commitment from Dakari Johnson out of Montverde Academy (Florida).
Johnson, the No. 1 center and No. 12 overall ranked prospect, picked the Wildcats over Georgetown and Syracuse following Montverde’s game against Simeon Career Academy (Illinois) at the Cancer Research Classic, in which he notched 18 points and 15 rebounds in the victory with Calipari in attendance. The 6’10”, 250-pound center cited winning, honesty with Calipari and his staff, and his pursuit to develop into the best player that he can become as the deciding factors in his recruitment. “I just want to win a national championship,” Johnson said. “The coaching staff told me this was not the place to come if I didn’t want to work hard. But I want to work and I want to get pushed. And I think Kentucky is the place for me.”
Adding Johnson is an impressive feat for the Wildcats as they will now hold commitments from the No. 1 center, the No. 1 point guard Andrew Harrison, the No. 1 shooting guard Aaron Harrison, and the No. 2 shooting guard James Young. Their historic class also includes four-star power forward Marcus Lee, the No. 30 overall ranked prospect, and three-star power forward Derek Willis. Originally a part of the junior class, Johnson reclassified in early November. Since then, he has had an outstanding senior season. He has helped Montverde to a No. 1 ranking while capturing the City of Palms Championship, earning MVP honors for the tournament.
He will be the most talented back-to-the-basket big man for the Wildcats under coach Calipari since DeMarcus Cousins was in Lexington during the 2009-10 season. He displays a mature low post game and has a soft touch around the rim. Mobile for his size, he runs the floor well and rebounds at an extremely high rate. Johnson, a New York native, spent his junior high years in Lexington and views his commitment as a homecoming of sorts. “Brooklyn is always my first home, but I love Kentucky. It’s like coming home for me,” Johnson stated.
With Kentucky holding the top spot in the 2013 class rankings, they may not be finished. Small forward Andrew Wiggins, the No. 1 overall ranked prospect, power forwards Julius Randle, the No. 4 overall ranked prospect; and Aaron Gordon, the No. 7 overall ranked prospect, all are still being pursued by the Wildcats. Among the three, however, Wiggins seems the most likely to commit to Kentucky. With the addition of one center and two power forwards already in the class and in all likelihood the return of sophomore power forward Kyle Wiltjer next season, there would be no room in the frontcourt for another four or five. But, if there is one coach that could make it work and mesh a collection of talented freshmen together to focus on one goal, it’s John Calipari.