Calipari adds five-star center Dakari Johnson to 2013-14 roster

University of Kentucky men's basketball head coach John Calipari

By Nick Jones | @Kernel_Nick
njones@kykernel.com 

Add another name to the number one recruiting class in college basketball.

UK head coach John Calipari added a fifth five-star recruit to his 2013-14 roster Saturday with the commitment of No. 1 ranked center Dakari Johnson.

Johnson turned down both Georgetown and Syracuse in favor of a move to Lexington.

“Next season I will be attending the University of Kentucky,” he said.

In what came as a shock on Saturday morning, word surfaced that Johnson would announce his college decision at the Cancer Research Classic in Wheeling, W. Va.

The announcement was broadcast live on ESPNU as part of the network’s coverage of the High School basketball festival.

Earlier in the evening, Johnson’s top-ranked Montverde Academy overwhelmed Jabari Parker and his Chicago Simeon High School 82-53 in a game broadcasted live on ESPN2.

Johnson faired well in the contest, finishing the game with 18 points and 15 rebounds while adding 2 blocked shots.

Originally part of the 2014 class, Johnson reclassified to the class of 2013 on Dec. 19, with his name instantly being recognized as the top center available in the class.

Johnson has yet to make an official visit to any school including UK, which is why it was widely speculated that he would wait until the spring to make his college decision.

But the center was fully prepared to get the decision out of the way to focus on his current goals for his Montverde Academy team.

“Our goal is just to win a national championship,” Johnson said. “So now that (the decision to commit) is made I can focus on that. And hopefully next season we can win another one.”

“I want to win (a championship) in high school, college and hopefully in the NBA,” he said.

His commitment to UK came as no surprise, considering the New York, N.Y., native already has several ties to both the city and UK’s basketball program.

The 6-foot-10, 250-pound center played his middle school ball in Lexington where he suited up for the Spartans of the Sayre School on North Limestone.

Johnson then returned to the East Coast where he attended St. Patrick High School in Elizabeth, N.J. —  where he played on the same varsity team as Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

After one season sharing a court with future UK standout Kidd-Gilchrist, Johnson transferred to Montverde Academy, sitting out his first season at the Florida school due to transfer rules.

With the possibility freshman centers Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein will declare for the NBA Draft this summer, Johnson is a huge pick-up for the Cats as he provides a low-post presence previously lacking in UK’s 2013 recruiting class.

Although Calipari and his coaching staff now have six commitments for the class of 2013 — Johnson, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, James Young, Marcus Lee and Derek Willis — don’t expect this to be where it wraps up.

With targets such as Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon still on the board, there could yet be more big names added to the Cats’ 2013-14 roster.