Kentucky landed a big piece Saturday night with the commitment of 6-foot-11 center Dakari Johnson.
The Montverde Academy star — ranked the No. 12 overall prospect in the country by ESPN — is the sixth member of UK’s recruiting class of 2013.
But the Cats are still looking to add to that group.
Five-star forwards Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon all have scholarship offers from UK, which is expected to lose several players from this season’s squad.
How does Johnson’s commitment affect those prospects?
ESPN analyst Dave Telep wasn’t bullish on UK’s chances of landing Gordon even if Johnson had decided to go elsewhere.
“They’re a long shot with Aaron Gordon at this point,” Telep told the Herald-Leader before Johnson’s announcement. “He almost has Pac-12 tattooed to him.”
So if Gordon isn’t coming, that leaves Wiggins and Randle as the only possibilities from the 2013 class.
Wiggins continues to keep his recruitment close to the vest, and he has not even hinted at a leader among his top tier of UK, Florida State and North Carolina. But Johnson’s pledge should have no negative impact — from UK’s standpoint — on what Wiggins decides to do. The Huntington Prep star will play primarily at the small forward position, and the number of minutes he would see at Kentucky wouldn’t be affected by Johnson’s playing time.
Randle’s status is a little more tricky.
Telep conceded that the 6-8 forward from Texas will get his playing time regardless of where he ends up.
“If Julius Randle goes to Kentucky, he’s going to start and play a whole lot no matter who’s there,” Telep said. “So I don’t think a commitment from Dakari Johnson knocks them out of the running or anything like that.”
But Telep said the presence of Johnson, along with Marcus Lee and whoever stays from this season’s team, will be used by opposing schools as a negative recruiting tool against Kentucky.
Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, N.C. State and Kansas are the others on Randle’s list. And they’ll be telling him that there won’t be as many minutes at UK, whether that’s true or not.
“You do have to start to run the numbers at some point,” Telep said. “And, not only that, other programs are running the numbers for you. And that’s an obstacle that has to be overcome. … And that’s going to be something that they’re going to use against the Wildcats.”
Don’t expect that to deter John Calipari and company.
“I don’t think they’re going to stop recruiting Julius Randle anytime soon,” Telep said with a smile.