Dakari Johnson emerged on the radar when he was in eighth grade playing up in age with the New York Gauchos on the AAU circuit. At that time the 6-foot-9 Johnson was already a man amongst boys and showed elite level potential. Since that day nothing has slowed down and the only change has been where he lived and where he attended high school.
Starting when he was in eighth grade schools such as Syracuse, Louisville, and Kentucky all began showing him interest. Soon thereafter numerous other colleges would begin to get involved. Those schools included Florida, Georgetown, and Ohio State.
Largely kept out of the media by his mother, Johnson didn't do a ton of talking about his recruitment and preferred to stay somewhat under the radar, but still it was obvious the schools that were after him, and before long Kentucky, Syracuse, Florida, and Georgetown emerged as the four who were most definitely in the mix for his services.
Johnson ended up transferring Elizabeth (NJ) St. Patrick's to Montverde (Fla.) Academy after his freshman season and then after his sophomore year he decided to move up in grade from the 2014 class to the 2013 class with the idea of getting to college earlier.
After re-classifying to 2013, Johnson officially narrowed down his list to Kentucky, Syracuse, and Georgetown, and decided those three were the only he would entertain. The recruitment was entering the home stretch with that trio, and now the decision has been made and Johnson is ready to announce.
Johnson is not a flashy player like some would expect from a highly touted five-star prospect. Instead he is a fundamentally sound space eater who excels within five feet of the basket. At 6-foot-10 and around 250 pounds, Johnson is a true center who plays like a center.
What is special about Johnson is his hands. Not many big kids in the country have a better set of mitts than Johnson. He snags everything off the glass and never bobbles a pass that comes his way down low. Johnson catches everything in terms of passes and missed shots. That skill is so rare that is separates Johnson from many of his peers.
Also Johnson is a strong position defender. While he doesn't possess great leaping ability, he knows how to use his body and strength to push opponents away from the rim and keep them out of their comfort zone. By doing this Johnson also controls the paint with his size and doesn't allow easy buckets for opposing guards who drive into the lane.
Finally he has a decent touch around the rim. While Johnson isn't refined yet with his footwork and post moves, he is a capable scorer because he knows how to be physical and create enough room to get a shot up on the rim. When a shot does get to the rim usually it goes in because he has a soft touch.
The biggest growth area for Johnson is with his physical conditioning. Johnson needs to continue to get into the best shape of his life and improve changing ends. At times he doesn't run the court great, though it isn't like he is a plodder.
Once Johnson does get into that prime shape in college all of the other talents and natural gifts that he has will show up even more.
At different points in this recruitment it seemed that one school might be ahead of the other, but the two that remained constant were Syracuse and Kentucky. Johnson actually did his junior years in the state of Kentucky and his mother and his brothers really enjoyed their time there. Still the Georgetown Hoyas made a great run as well, but Kentucky has never really given in on this one, and they seem to have the momentum. While it wouldn't necessarily be a shocker if he doesn't pick UK, they seem to be the smart bet. Prediction: Kentucky