College Basketball Recruiting: Kentucky a Natural Fit for Dakari Johnson

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Here we go again.

For the second straight season, the nation’s top high school center has whittled his college list down to Georgetown, Kentucky and Syracuse. Only this time, there should be little decision day drama.

Montverde Academy standout Dakari Johnson is following in the footsteps of Nerlens Noel, telling reporters last week he is down to the same three schools Noel mulled last spring. As was the case with Noel—minus the suspenseful buildup—all signs point to Kentucky as Johnson’s likely destination.

The Wildcats are the only finalist of the three presently with an open scholarship. Kentucky has nine scholarship players on this year’s team—two graduate in May—and five commits bound for Lexington next season (three have signed binding letters of intent), leaving one outstanding scholarship available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Cats are also expected to lose freshmen Nerlens Noel and Alex Poythress to the NBA draft in June, which would open up room for two more of its other three targets in the 2013 class.

Georgetown, devoid of a senior on its entire roster, has 12 scholarships exhausted with this year’s group and its 13th and final scholly taken by Class of 2013 commit Reggie Cameron. The Hoyas should have available scholarships to dangle in June—Otto Porter is a sure-fire lottery pick and will undoubtedly throw his hat into the NBA draft while Greg Whittington could well follow suit—but Johnson would have to wait until early May for that assurance. Tyler Adams, who is sitting out his sophomore season due to a heart condition, could quit the basketball team altogether as well, thereby freeing up another scholly. That issue, however, likely won’t be settled until the summer, long after Johnson has made his college choice.

Syracuse, too, is facing a scholarship crunch for next season. With eight scholarship underclassmen—including Duke transfer Mike Gbinije, who is sitting out the 2012-13 season—and five commits ticketed for the Hill next fall, the Orange are out of open scholarships. Sophomore point guard Michael Carter-Williams is a candidate to jump to the NBA at season’s end, as is junior forward C.J. Fair, but as of now, SU has no space for Johnson, who grew up a Syracuse fan.

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