NCB On The Trail: Dakari Johnson

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If you want an indication of how valued big men are in college basketball today, consider this:

Eighteen months ago, Columbia was the only Division I school heavily recruiting 6-foot-9 forward Sean Obi. On Monday night, after one season at Rice, Obi announced he would transfer to Duke, where he will have three seasons of eligibility beginning in 2015-16.

Recruit and return: Kentucky 

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In order to return to the NCAA tournament, a team needs contributions from both returning players and incoming recruits. Here's a look at Kentucky and its chances of dancing again in 2015.

Quick references:
2013-14 roster
2014 recruiting

Possible 2014-15 starting five:
G: Andrew Harrison
G: Aaron Harrison
F: Alex Poythress
F: Trey Lyles
C: Willie Cauley-Stein/Dakari Johnson


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Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.

1. Kentucky
Dakari Johnson, Julius Randle, Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress make up the most powerful frontcourt in the game. They can score, block shots and rebound with anyone.

2. Arizona
Brandon Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski, Aaron Gordon.
This threesome is strong, long and explosive, and they use those gifts on both ends of the floor.

3. Syracuse
C.J. Fair, Rakeem Christmas, DaJuan Coleman, Baye Keita.
This bunch has both length and girth while protecting the basket and finishing inside.

4. Florida
Patric Young, transfer Dorian Finney-Smith (Virginia Tech) and Will Yeguete.
If Freshman Chris Walker becomes eligible in December this group could do serious damage together. They are extremely productive and could be dominant on the inside if Walker is playing.

Player of the Year
Marcus Smart. Nothing seems to faze this All-American. When you easily could have walked away from the college game and you come back, that means you are extremely confident in your ability. He has put up terrific numbers across the board, dominated the action at times and makes his team win -- that's what a POY does.

Kentucky should be just fine 

September, 12, 2013
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Six months ago, John Calipari seemed virtually invincible on the recruiting trail. He was riding a wave of momentum fueled by his 2012 national championship, incredible recent success in the NBA draft, and being on the verge of delivering one of the top recruiting classes in the history of college basketball.

But then, unexpectedly, a few breaks went against Kentucky. Top-ranked Andrew Wiggins capped the 2013 class by picking Kansas, and then Calipari lost out to his former mentor, Larry Brown, as his top point guard target of 2014, Emmanuel Mudiay (Dallas/Prime Prep Academy), picked SMU last month.

So have Calipari and Kentucky lost a step?


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'Cats ink three more to top class 

April, 18, 2013
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Kentucky head coach John Calipari announced the signing of three more student-athletes on Thursday to the top-ranked class in the country.


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Kentucky's Mr. Basketball picks 'Cats 

April, 10, 2013
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Senior point guard Dominique Hawkins (Richmond, Ky./Madison Central) announced his commitment to the University of Kentucky on Wednesday morning, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.


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Several ESPN 100 recruits to play in NHSI

March, 12, 2013
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The field is set for the fifth annual National High School Invitational, and it promises to be the most talented group in the event’s history.

All eight teams in the NHSI field are ranked in the ESPN 25 Power Rankings, and six are in the top 10. The tournament will be held April 4-6 in Bethesda, Md., and televised on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. Seedings and matchups will be announced at a later date.

[+] EnlargeNigel Williams-Goss
Josh Holmberg/Icon SMIWashington recruit Nigel Williams-Goss and Findlay Prep look to defend their NHSI title.
This year’s NHSI is headlined by the No. 1 team in the nation, Findlay Prep (Nev.). The undefeated Pilots are the reigning NHSI champs and boast a loaded roster that features a quartet of ESPN 100 stars in Nigel Williams-Goss (Washington, No. 20), Allerik Freeman (UCLA, No. 65), Christian Wood (UNLV, No. 74) and Stanford Robinson (Indiana, No. 98).

“It’s going to be difficult [to repeat],” said Findlay head coach Todd Simon. "This appears to be the strongest field yet for the NHSI. The fact that we are 34-0 and have won NHSI three times it makes us a gigantic target. But it’s a nice little challenge.”

Top-15 recruits Kasey Hill (Florida, No. 9) and Dakari Johnson (Kentucky, No. 11) lead No. 2 Montverde Academy (Fla.). The Eagles are still smarting after consecutive losses to Findlay, first in last year’s NHSI title game and again in January on a Williams-Goss buzzer-beater that ended Montverde’s reign at No. 1.

Also in the mix for the coveted NHSI crown are: No. 4 Prime Prep (Texas), led by No. 53 senior Jordan Mickey (LSU) and No. 3 junior Emmanuel Mudiay (undecided); No. 5 St. Benedict’s Prep (N.J.) and ESPN 100 point guard Tyler Ennis (Syracuse); No. 8 La Lumiere (Ind.) with talented wing Detrick Mostella (Oklahoma State) leading the way; No. 9 Blanche Ely (Fla.), the Florida Class 7A state champ; and perennial top-25 squads No. 19 Oak Hill Academy (Va.) and No. 25 Montrose Christian (Md.).

“To win this event we’d be 37-0, and with the schedule we’ve played it would put us in rare air in high school basketball,” Simon added.

Hoophall preview on ESPNU RecruitingNation 

January, 16, 2013
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ESPN's National Recruiting Director Paul Biancardi will preview this weekend's Spalding Hoophall Classic on ESPNU's RecruitingNation on Thursday.

One of the marquee events during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, this year will feature 25 players in the ESPN 100. Biancardi will breakdown the games of No. 1 Andrew Wiggins and No. 2 Jabari Parker along with No. 7 Aaron Gordon, No. 8 Noah Vonleh and No. 12 Dakari Johnson. ESPN and ESPNU will televise six games on Sunday and Monday.

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Biancardi’s Breakdown: Dakari Johnson 

January, 11, 2013
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Dakari Johnson (New York, N.Y./Montverde) has been making a lot of news lately. The No. 1 center in the ESPN 100 plays for the nation’s No. 1 team, won MVP honors just before Christmas at the loaded City of Palms Classic in Florida and just this past weekend announced his commitment to Kentucky.

But who is Dakari Johnson and what makes his game special? Let’s break it down -- and remember that even though he’s a senior, this is only his third year of basketball.

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Donovan signs elite 2013 class for UF 

November, 14, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Signing two of the best players in the state has given Florida coach Billy Donovan one of the best recruiting classes in the nation.

And it could get even better.

The Gators signed PG Kasey Hill (Eustis, Fla./Montverde Academy) and PF Chris Walker (Bonifay, Fla./Holmes County) on Wednesday. ESPN.com rates them as the top two players in the state of Florida, and they rank No. 9 and No. 10, respectively, in the ESPN 100. ESPN also ranks the 6-foot Hill the nation’s No. 2 point guard and the 6-10 Walker the nation’s No. 4 power forward.

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Thursday's RecruitingNation on ESPNU 

November, 8, 2012
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RecruitingNation will air on Thursday at 5 p.m. ET on ESPNU and feature the top analysts breaking down the latest news in basketball recruiting.

ESPN's National Recruiting Director Paul Biancardi along with Sr. Analyst Dave Telep will take a look at ESPN 100 PF Austin Nichols' (Eads, Tenn./Briarcrest) recent commitment to Memphis and the re-classification of C Dakari Johnson (New York/Montverde Academy) to the 2013 class.

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ESPN 60 center Dakari Johnson (New York/Montverde Academy) will sit out this weeks AAU Super Showcase in Orlando, Fla. due to a sprained MCL, ESPN's Paul Biancardi is reporting.

Johnson told ESPN.com the injury is not serious but he is currently unable to put weight on the knee. "I am not able to run, jump or have contact right now," he said.

The 6-foot-10 big man, currently ranked No. 6 overall in the 2014 class, will be in Orlando supporting his Each 1 Teach 1 teammates.

ESPNU will broadcast games on Wednesday and Thursday starting at 7 p.m. ET.

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