It's another busy day of breaking news. On the heels of Julius Randle's announcement yesterday to move on up to the NBA, and Alex Poythress' announcement today that he'll be returning for his junior season, comes now Dakari Johnson to make official what we had mostly speculated: Johnson will return to Kentucky for this sophomore season. This is from Kyle Tucker of the Louisville Courier-Journal:
The University of Kentucky will have the biggest team in college basketball next season, if not ever. Seven-footer Dakari Johnson solidified that Wednesday with his announcement that he'll wait on the NBA and return to school for his sophomore year.
His decision, along with forward Alex Poythress' announcement earlier in the day that he'll return for his junior season, means the Wildcats will have seven players 6-foot-8 or taller, six of whom are former top-40 recruits, five of them McDonald's All-Americans and three skilled 7-footers.
Of course, this is great news for Kentucky fans, and the front line of the Wildcats' squad next year will sport five players at 6'10" or taller. That's an unbelievable number of big guys, and how John Calipari purports to find them all playing time is anybody's guess. But as they say, that's a nice problem to have.
All that remains now is the decision of Aaron and Andrew Harrison, and their call is going to be crucial. If they return, look for Kentucky to rocket to #1 in most pre-season polls with a team that, quite frankly, none of us could have even dared hope for at the beginning of last season. As powerful as last season's squad looked on paper, this one could wind up looking quite a bit more so.
On paper. We'll see.
"After looking at the information provided to me by Coach Cal and the NBA committee, my family and I made the decision for me to return to UK for my sophomore year," Johnson said. "Returning to school allows me to build on my leadership skills, improve my individual basketball strength and conditioning skills, and have another opportunity to accomplish one of my individual goals: winning an NCAA national championship in college."
A few tweets of interest:
So UK will have seven guys 6-8 or taller, six top-40 recruits, five McDonald's All-Americans, three skilled 7-footers in the frontcourt.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) April 23, 2014
Johnson, in a statement: "Big Blue Nation, I can’t thank you enough for your support, and I look forward to representing UK next year."— Kentucky Athletics (@UKAthletics) April 23, 2014
Dakari Johnson returning to Kentucky. Wildcats' frontcourt loaded.. Awaiting a backcourt. Harrisons, your call— Dana O'Neil (@ESPNDanaOneil) April 23, 2014
After Alex Poythress made a wise decision, Dakari Johnson made a wise decision.— John Clay (@johnclayiv) April 23, 2014
Kentucky will have 5 projected NBA picks in the frontcourt next year: WCS, Johnson, Poythress, Towns, Lyles, plus Lee and Willis. Loaded.— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) April 23, 2014
Dakari Johnson smartly decides to return to Kentucky for his sophomore season. What a frontcourt! Might have to elevate Cats to No. 1.— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) April 23, 2014
Willie Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson, Karl Towns, Trey Lyles, Marcus Lee, Alex Poythress. Someone isn't gonna be very happy next year.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) April 23, 2014
Despite being the youngest player on the team this year, he continued to improve every day on the court and it showed.— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) April 23, 2014
Keep in mind that Dakari moved up a grade so he could get to UK early. The big guy won't be 19 years old until September.— Ben Roberts (@NextCats) April 23, 2014
Guys leave Kentucky that aren't ready & people complain, guys that would be ifs & stay people complain. Yes they have depth & competition— Seth Greenberg (@SethOnHoops) April 23, 2014
Doug Gottlieb will probably move Kentucky up to No. 11 in his preseason rankings for 2014-15.— Anthony Wireman (@awireman) April 23, 2014
And finally, Mark Ennis, concern-trolls the Big Blue Nation:
It's reasonable for Kentucky fans to be pumped, but, isn't this just a little bit like having three good QBs? You just cant play them all.— Mark Ennis (@MarkEnnis) April 23, 2014
Hah. You might be surprised.