Recruiting: Kentucky-Bound Center Dakari Johnson Sets College Decision for Tonight

The top center in the 2013 class is catching even the coaches recruiting him off-guard by his sudden impulse to end his college recruitment.

The school of choice should shock no one.

Montverde Academy pivot Dakari Johnson will announce his commitment to Kentucky at halftime of tonight’s Gonzaga (D.C.) vs. Salesian (CA) game, Busting Brackets has learned.

The contest, which tips off at 8 p.m. (ET) and will air on ESPNU, is the second of a marquee high school twin bill. Johnnson and Montverde will meet Simeon Academy (IL) in the opening game, beginning at 6 p.m. The Chicago-based school features Duke-bound sensation Jabari Parker—a former S.I. cover boy—and a pair of heralded Illinois recruits (Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate).

RELATED: Kentucky a Natural Fit for Dakari Johnson

Johnson is set to choose between Georgetown, Kentucky and Syracuse, the same three finalists from which Nerlens Noel—the top center in last year’s recruiting class—chose. Of the three schools, only Kentucky has an open scholarship to offer.

Syracuse exhausted its scholarships after penning letters of intent from all five of its 2013 commits. Georgetown, meanwhile, is one over the scholarship limit after landing UCLA transfer center Joshua Smith earlier this week. The Hoyas will make up that scholarship at season’s end if [when] Otto Porter bolts to the NBA or if red-shirt big man Tyler Adams—whose career is in jeopardy because of chronic heart problems—quits the team.

A 6-foot-11 center whose shed 20 pounds over the last year, Johnson will become John Calipari’s sixth signature recruit in the senior class. He’ll join twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison, scoring ace James Young, high-upside power forward Marcus Lee and in-state product Derek Willis. The Wildcats are also in contention for 5-star power forwards Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon—their chances of even landing one of the two are lukewarm at best—and swingman Andrew Wiggins, the nation’s top high school hoops player.

Johnson has ties to the Bluegrass State, which accelerated the likelihood of a reunion. He has family in Lexington and spent several years at nearby Sayre Middle School, even playing varsity ball in the city as an eighth grader.

A logjam at center should clear up by the time Johnson arrives on campus next fall. Noel is one-and-done and his backup, Willie Cauley-Stein, could well follow suit. The early exits of both middlemen would give Johnson a leg up on next year’s starting center competition.

Tags: Basketball Kentucky Wildcats

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