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There & Back Again: Dakari Johnson Awaits a Return to Lexington

Dakari Johnson's life has wound through many cities, but in a few short months he will be back in Lexington to suit up for the Kentucky Wildcats.

Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

The Courier-Journal's Adam Himmelsbach wrote a great article on high school center Dakari Johnson from Montverde (Fla.) Academy. Johnson, a 2013 prospect, committed to the Kentucky Wildcats in January and is expected to sign a Letter of Intent this April.

He's been well-known in recruiting circles since his freshman year of high school, when he played for highly regarded coach Kevin Boyle at St. Patrick in Elizabeth, NJ. At the time, Johnson played next to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, a senior on that team which went 26-1 and won state championship. Johnson then followed Boyle to Montverde Academy in Florida, opting to sit out his sophomore year due to transfer rules.

Less well known is Johnson's struggles as a child prior to his time at St. Patrick. Johnson's early life is chronicled well by Himmelsbach, and his piece is worth a read. Johnson grew up in Brooklyn, but actually made his way to Lexington during his formative years and finished 8th grade at Sayre Middle School. After being uprooted again for high school, Johnson found a mentor in Kidd-Gilchrist and went on to have a prestigious prep career.

Kidd-Gilchrist saw a piece of himself in Johnson. He, too, had grown up without a father. And when he arrived at St. Patrick as a shy young player, he was guided by Irving, who is now the Cleveland Cavaliers’ all-star point guard.

Kidd-Gilchrist reached out to Johnson, even living with his family for nearly two weeks during the season. The two played basketball and video games and devoured Makini’s home cooking.

"I wanted to show him the way, show him I was there for him," Kidd-Gilchrist said. "I think it helped. We really just clicked."

Take a gander at the piece, and welcome a future Wildcat to the fold.