Following a win against Jabari Parker and Simeon Career Academy (Ill.), the nation’s top center Dakari Johnson (Montverde Academy/New York, N.Y.) announced live on ESPNU that he has committed to the University of Kentucky.
Johnson, who reclassified to the Class of 2013 before the season, decided recently to end the recruiting process. The 6-foot-10 center picked the Wildcats over Syracuse and Georgetown.
Kentucky seemed the likely choice to land Johnson’s services. Syracuse is hitting the scholarship limit and will be close even if Michael Carter-Williams jumps to the NBA following the season. Georgetown intrigued Johnson, as the Hoyas have a strong history of developing big men.
However, Johnson seemed set on Big Blue Nation. Johnson, who actually lived in Lexington briefly, told Seve Cousins of ZagsBlog.com earlier this week that Kentucky was still in the mix, even if Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein would leave for the NBA or return for their sophomore seasons.
Johnson is a very skilled offensive big. He’s not an overly-athletic big man, like a Noel or Anthony Davis, but he is strong presence inside, who can score in the paint and adds a good rebounder for John Calipari. He joins Marcus Lee and Derek Willis as part of the freshman frontline for the Wildcats in 2013-2014. Calipari has also landed commitments from the backcourt of Aaron and Andrew Harrison, as well as wing James Young.
Kentucky already had the best recruiting class entering today. Johnson strengthened it. But the scariest part of all, is that Calipari isn’t done.
Calipari is still a possible destination for the nation’s top player, Andrew Wiggins of Huntington Prep (W.Va.), as well as the nation’s top forward, Julius Randle of Prestonwood Christian (Tex.).
The 6-foot-9 Randle has Kentucky on a short list with Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Florida, N.C. State and Kansas, while many believe Kentucky and Florida State are the favorites for Wiggins’ services.
Not sure if there is room for both of these recruits, but if Calipari can land either Randle or Wiggins, this is probably the greatest recruiting class in history.
According to Rivals.com, Kentucky, if they land Wiggins or Randle – ranked No. 1 and No. 2 respectively – the Wildcats would have four of the top eight recruits in the nation and six of the top 20 (Johnson is No. 13, Lee is No. 18).
This is class is two years removed from Kentucky landing the two top picks in the 2012 NBA Draft – Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – and Calipari looks like he could outdo himself with this group of freshmen.
Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne