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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

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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