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Five-Star Center Dakari Johnson Reclassifies to 2013 Class

Coach Cal and Kentucky were in on center Dakari Johnson early in his recruitment. Will the Wildcats stay in now that Johnson is in the 2013 class?

Andy Lyons

News leaked yesterday that five-star center Dakari Johnson from Montverde (Fla.) Academy plans to reclassify to the 2013 class. He would be the fourth five-star prospect from the class of 2014 to reclassify, following Wayne Selden from The Tilton (NH) School, Andrew Wiggins from Huntington (W. Va.) Prep and Noah Vonleh from Haverhill (Mass.) New Hampton.

Johnson was on Kentucky's radar very early in his career. As a freshman, the talented big man played at Elizabeth (NJ) St. Patrick alongside a then high school senior Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Johnson then followed former St. Patrick head coach Kevin Boyle to Montverde in Florida. Johnson is from the New York area originally.

This fall, Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari surprised the recruitniks when he failed to make a trip to Montverde, bypassing a chance to see both Johnson and fellow 2014 teammate, shooting guard D'Angelo Russell. Neither Johnson nor Russell currently possesses a Kentucky offer. Compounding the conundrum, the Wildcats coaching staff visited and offered two center prospects, Cliff Alexander and Jahlil Okafor, and a shooting guard prospect, Rashad Vaughn, during the fall contact period.

That left many wondering if the Wildcats were still high on Dakari Johnson's list, and vice versa. With Johnson's impending classification, those fears may be allayed. Kentucky is mentioned as an early favorite for Johnson, and the expectation is that Calipari and company will renew contact with him. Other schools listed include the Florida Gators, Syracuse Orange, Georgetown Hoyas, and Kansas Jayhawks.

In the frontcourt, the Wildcats currently have commitments from Marcus Lee from Antioch (Cal.) Deer Valley and Derek Willis from Mt. Washington (Ky.) Bullitt East. They are also heavily pursuing power forward Julius Randle from Plano (Tex.) Prestonwood Christian and Aaron Gordon from San Jose (Cal.) Archbishop Mitty.

With the rumors that Randle may favor teams like the Texas Longhorns, Florida Gators, and N.C. State Wolfpack over Kentucky, Johnson may not be a bad consolation prize should the coaching staff choose to dial up that recruitment. Johnson fits the mold of a true center more than Lee, who looks like pure NBA power forward who could slide to the 5 in college. Nor does the recruitment of Johnson necessarily close off doors from Kentucky's other top targets: Randle, Gordon, and Wiggins. With the expectation that the Wildcats will once again have a historic recruiting class, Johnson's reclassification just gives Coach Cal another attractive option.