Kline’s Line: Big Man Dakari Johnson Cuts Finalists to SU, UK & G-Town

There is no question ESPN analyst Dick Vitale will end up labeling incoming freshman and Syracuse recruit Dakari Johnson as one of his favorite Diaper Dandies next season. The question right now is where Johnson, a New York native and top 5 recruit in his class, will attend college next fall. At the very least, SU is in his final three.

After reclassifying up from the Class of 2014 to 2013, the best center in the nation remains unsigned, but is making strides narrowing down the process. While his plan is still to make up his mind in the spring, Johnson shaved his list down to a trio of schools this week. A product of Montverde Academy (FL), the 6-foot-10 behemoth will choose between Syracuse, Kentucky and Georgetown. He cut ties with Kansas, Ohio State and Florida.

A big body with a great skill set, the senior has lost a fair amount of weight since moving down to Florida last fall. His size and athleticism will make a tremendous post player for any school, but Syracuse may be the best option for him. A source close to Dakari tells The Fizz: 

“He may have lost the weight, but his athleticism and speed still don’t blow you away. He would fit best in the 2-3 zone defense as he doesn’t have to be as active, and can save his energy for when they run the floor in transition.”

The big question revolves around whether Dajuan Coleman and Rakeem Christmas will still be on the roster next fall. Both big men are potential NBA Draft prospects, and could leave school early with a deep tournament run that enhances their stock. Johnson would replace Coleman more naturally, but either one leaving could impact his decision. This is especially true now that ’14 Syracuse commit Chris McCullough (6’9″ PF similar to Christmas) will remain in his class and not enroll at SU next season.

Johnson visited Syracuse in the fall, but he has ties to the other two finalists as well. Dakari has family in Kentucky and attended middle school there. He has a long-lasting relationship with John Calipari and the staff, and played his freshman year of high school with former Kentucky star and current Charlotte Bobcat rookie, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

Georgetown has consistently recruited Johnson hardest and had him on campus for Midnight Madness during his freshman year. He would also fit the Hoyas scheme, but they may not wait on him. After missing on Kennedy Meeks, a similar center who went to North Carolina, the Hoyas are looking at either Johnson or UCLA transfer Josh Smith, who was on campus this weekend. Smith is considering Georgetown, along with Kansas and Washington.

If Smith, a former All-American, winds up a Hoya, then it comes down to another epic Kentucky vs. Syracuse battle for Dakari. With power schools like these, this recruitment will have an interesting finish to it. Johnson will take official visits to both, and most likely Georgetown if they don’t go with Smith, after his season at Montverde (FL) is over.

Posted: Alex Kline


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  1. EC says:

    There’s actually still talk of Dajuan Coleman leaving for the NBA after this season?!?!?! Listen, I’m a HUGE fan of his potential, but this kid is still far from being a serious contributor at the COLLEGE level. The game is way to fast for him right now. He’ll get there – maybe even after this season – but, he’s got a ways to go!

  2. LouR says:

    Christmas would go before Coleman. CJ Fair might bolt also .

  3. EC says:

    Not sure that CJ is going anywhere. Love the kid’s game, but he’s probably a 4-year guy.

  4. chris says:

    EC is very right about DCHe isn’t near ready for the NBA He is barely ready for this level. Under the basket with the ball in his hasnds is hardly a guarantee of points . Not even at the free throw line. A rebound is equally apt to be stripped away

  5. Al Speach says:

    None of our big men are going anywhere. DC looks like he has no legs out there – maybe b/c of the weight loss. He doesn’t finish well and doesn’t snatch rebounds like I thought he would. Pity, b/c he is great outlet passer and runs well. But he clearly needs more lower body conditioning and better footwork. With expected progress he will be gone after that. Christmas doesn’t rebound enough to stay on floor in college game, no way his limited game belongs in the NBA. Has shown some flashes of offensive skills, but he needs to be more of a windex man to consider leaving early. BMK is an adequate college center, who to his credit plays hard every possession. The fact that he is getting so many minutes shows just how not ready RK and DC are for the next level. Doubt we will be attracting any type of one and done talent at center for next year. I can say that we will not be contending for NC with BMK getting the majority of minutes at center. MCW would be averaging 13+ APG with better finishers in middle.

  6. Frank says:

    It will not hurt to have an additional big man to relieve the starters.

  7. Carlton says:

    @AL eh not so much. MCW might avg 13 apg if he could find his jumper. Rak is a good finisher has springs for days.

    If Cj can shows he has a jumper he will bolt. Draft is real thin this yr. He could find himself somewhere in the top 20.

  8. JC says:

    While most would agree that Xmas, Coleman, Fair and MCW could all use another year in college the simple fact is you have to go back over a dozen years to find a JB team that returned the entire roster less graduating seniors. For whatever reason somebody always leaves early. I could rattle off over 50 players in JB’s regime who have bolted early for one reason or another. SU will land Dakari.

  9. JC says:

    These 25 players have bolted from JB in the last 15 years for one reason or another. Dion Waiters, Fab Melo, Mookie Jones, Dashonte Riley, Wes Johnson, Sean Williams, Paul Harris, Eric Devendorf, Johnny Flynn, Donte Greene, Josh Wright, Devin McBrride, Mike Jones, Louie McCroskey, Dayshawn Wright, Billy Edelin, Melo Anthony, James Theus, Greg Davis, Deshawn Williams, Mark Konecky, Tony Bland, Eric williams, Sam Spann, LeSean Howard.

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