Montverde.org recently interviewed 2013 MVA graduate Dakari Johnson. Dakari is considered a strong 2nd round selection in the Thursday, June 25th 2015 NBA Draft being held in New York City, at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Johnson has been projected to be chosen in the #30-#50 selections of the draft’s 2nd Round. Johnson, a native of the Bronx, New York, was a sophomore center this past season for the University of Kentucky. In his senior year at MVA, Dakari was an impressive leader of MVA’s thrilling 67-66 nationally televised victory over St. Benedict’s Prep of Newark, New Jersey, in the ESPN 2013 National Invitational Tournament Championship. Dakari was that tournament’s Most Valuable Player, was selected as a 2013 McDonald’s All-American, and played an important role in helping the MVA Eagles solidify their 25-2 record and #1 consensus ranking in all leading 2013 national high-school basketball polls. Some 2015 NBA Draft assessments indicate there is a possibility Dakari could end-up as a Philadelphia 76er – especially since he has trained with them, they are interested in Dakari, and Philly has late NBA Draft 2nd-Round selections. Also remarkable is that Joel Embiid, a former MVA Eagle member of the 2011-2012 MVA Boys Varsity Basketball team (when Dakari of sat-out that year because of transfer-eligibility status), as well as 2005 MVA graduate Luc Mbah a Moute, are both playing on the current Philadelphia team.
In a Sunday, June 14, 2015, SB Nation article , Jake Pavorsky wrote, “Saturday’s pre-draft workout at PCOM included a former McDonald’s All-American, the D-III Player of the Year, as well as a former local product.…the Philadelphia 76ers worked out center Dakari Johnson (Kentucky)…Johnson, the number two center in the class of 2013 according to ESPN.com, spent two years at the University of Kentucky before opting to turn pro. With a plethora of big men all trying to share playing time, Johnson was limited to just 16.3 minutes per game during his sophomore year. He averaged 6.4 points on 50.6% shooting from the floor, as well as 4.6 rebounds per game. He posted a 14.9 body fat percentage at the 2015 NBA Draft Combine, the most out of any player there. He’s firmly supplanted as a second round talent.”
The following content provides excerpts from the 2015 NBA Draft Combine Measurements of the Boston Celtics:
“…Dakari Johnson would have played 25-30 minutes per game this season for the majority of collegiate basketball teams. Instead, he played only 16.3 minutes per game for the Kentucky Wildcats due to their wealth of talent. Johnson was an impact player while he was on the floor. He’s a huge body, a borderline 7-footer in sneakers who weighed in at nearly 265 pounds at the Combine. Johnson is active and he plays hard at both ends, though is game is not very diverse. Offensively, he’s a pure post center. He’s active and does the necessary work to gain solid post position. He’s not afraid to bang on the block. When he gets the ball in the post, he showcases very solid footwork. He’s got solid touch around the basket with both hands when he gets a shot off. However, getting to that point is the issue… He also has a jumper that I think can develop some consistency from 10-15 feet. He runs the floor well for his size and has the ability to set solid screens. At the defensive end, Johnson is a smart defender. He’s usually in correct position, he doesn’t over-commit, and he’s patient with his block attempts. He showcases solid mobility for his size, allowing him to keep up with more perimeter-oriented bigs…”
The following is the interview Montverde.org conducted with Dakari Johnson earlier this month:
How did Montverde Academy prepare you for dealing with academic and athletic challenges at the University of Kentucky?
Montverde Academy helped me a lot as far as being prepared academically and athletically at the University of Kentucky. I had a good understanding how to balance out school, work, and basketball at the same time. Coach Boyle also prepared me well for the college game.
What are some of your most memorable experiences while attending Montverde Academy?
The most memorable experiences I had at Montverde Academy was definitely interacting and meeting people from different parts of the world. I think that helped me get out of my comfort zone and to be more comfortable with meeting new people no matter where they are from. Also M.A.I.T and winning the high school national championships are two things I will never forget.
How does athletic competition on the NCAA Division 1 level differ from that of the elite national high-school basketball level?
The college game is different from High school as it’s more physical and much faster – you are playing against older opponents and guys who have been in college for 3,4 years and are more older and who have been there for a while.
What NBA team/teams are you hoping to be drafted by?
I don’t have a particular team. I am just enjoying the process and working hard to fulfill my life-long dream.
Are there NBA players you would especially enjoy playing against?
I would just enjoy playing against anybody. The NBA is the best of the best, and I am a competitor so I can’t wait to compete against the best.
What do you feel separates you from other center-prospects in this year’s NBA draft?
I don’t compare myself to anybody else – I just try to improve my game and myself day by day.
Was it a difficult decision to turn down the opportunity to return to Kentucky for your junior year and make another NCAA championship-run?
It was definitely a hard decision because we were all so close my freshman and sophomore year. And those memories are something I will never forget, but I was just ready to live out my dream and work to fulfill my goals.
What will be the main adjustment you’ll have to make going into the League?
The main adjustment is that everything in the NBA is the best of the best – so I’ll have to improve my game in ever aspect, day by day, and get used to being a professional.