Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Dakari Johnson has cut his list to three schools, according to reports.
The 6-foot-11 Johnson — who recently reclassified to 2013 from 2014 — is down to Kentucky, Syracuse and Georgetown, according to Tweets from Dave Telep and Evan Daniels, who spoke with Johnson at the City of Palms Classic.
Johnson made the announcement to reporters after going for 23 points on 11-for-11 shooting with 10 rebounds as Montverde (Fla.) Academy rolled Fort Myers Bishop Verot, 79-35.
He had previously been considering Kansas, Ohio State and Florida, while Missouri had recently offered.
In an interview last month with SNY.tv, Makini Campbell, Johnson’s mother, talked about Kentucky’s attraction because the family lived in Lexington for several years while Johnson was in middle school.
“Actually, last Thanksgiving we spent time with his friends there, with his extended family,” she said. “So for him that is kind of like going back to something that ‘s very familiar and something that is likable.
“As a parent, with you not being there in the same place as your child, you always want, kids always say, ‘I have an aunt there’ or ‘I have an uncle there,’ there’s someone to kind of look after him,” she added. “So that’s comforting for me, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it might be the best fit for him, but I think that will definitely have an appeal for him.”
Kentucky’s loaded class features guards, wings and forwards like Andrew and Aaron Harrison, James Young, Marcus Lee and Derek Willis, but no center.
“But we also noted you still have Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein, which is similar to Dakari and so it’s a whole process, looking to see where you’re needed, what’s the best fit,” Campbell said.
She didn’t rule out Johnson joining forces with another big, such as a Noel or a Cauley-Stein, should one or both not go one-and-done.
“That could be good for him in a sense, you know what I mean?” she said. “Just like when he was at St. Pat’s and he had [recent Illinois commit] Austin Colbert. They complemented each other, especially in practice. It’s not that. You just kind of wonder if it’s the same kind of guy like yourself.”
As for Syracuse, assistant Adrian Autry has been recruiting Johnson since Autry was at Virginia Tech and Johnson was in middle school.
“It’s a longstanding relationship so that’s appealing,” she said of Autry.
Syracuse has recently landed pledges from 2013 big man Chinonso Obokoh and 2014 forward Chris McCullough, who is considering reclassifying to 2013, which could complicate their scholarship situation.
They also have freshman big man DaJuan Coleman and sophomore big Rakeem Christmas, among others, on the roster.
“Well, I’m not clear, there’s a question mark on Syracuse,” Campbell said. “I’m not sure if one, a scholarship is available, two, whether or not, the players that were signed are very similar to Dakari, whether or not he can be an impact [player] there. That’s a question for him. He’s in analyzing stage right now.”
Campbell said she was uncertain if Coleman and/or Christmas might jump to the NBA after this season.
“It’s like if they’re there and the guys that they have signed are there, then it’s kind of like, does it make sense?” she said. “Would he be impactful there? Will there be a need for a player like Dakari?
“You kind of want to go somewhere where you’re needed.”
Georgetown coach John Thompson III met recently with Johnson, but SBNation reported that the Hoyas don’t have a scholarship available.
“He presented his program and Georgetown itself, it speaks for itself,” she said. “Academically it’s a really good school. So their focus was on the big guy and of course they can back that up.”
Johnson and his Montverde teammates will play a pair of games in New Jersey Jan. 2 and 3 vs. St. Peter’s Prep and Roselle Catholic in the Holiday Hoops for Troops event at Roselle Catholic.
SMITH TO VISIT GEORGETOWN
According to reports, former UCLA big man Josh Smith will visit Georgetown this weekend. He is also considering Kansas and Washington, and hopes to enroll for the second semester.
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.