North Carolina prep hoops standout Dakari Johnson having Mid-South, regional impact

STAR WATCH --- Dakari Johnson is the starting point guard for Northwood Temple Academy in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  Having adopted No. 10 as his jersey number, this 15-year-old rising basketball standout has become a fixture on the amateur hoops circuit in years, most notably on an AAU platform in which he’s had the luxury to competing with a host of players of former NBA All-Stars. (Photos submitted by G. Johnson)

STAR WATCH — Dakari Johnson is the starting point guard for Northwood Temple Academy in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Having adopted No. 10 as his jersey number, this 15-year-old rising basketball standout has become a fixture on the amateur hoops circuit in years, most notably on an AAU platform in which he’s had the luxury to competing with a host of players of former NBA All-Stars. (Photos submitted by G. Johnson)

In case you don’t know him, allow Dakari Johnson to introduce himself.

For starters, Johnson is the starting point guard for Northwood Temple Academy in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Having adopted No. 10 as his jersey number, this 15-year-old rising basketball standout has become a fixture on the amateur hoops circuit in years, most notably on an AAU platform in which he’s had the luxury to competing with a host of players who are sons of former NBA players.

A speedy, versatile athlete who stands at 6-foot even and weighs 175-pound, Johnson, by many recruiting experts’ standards, would be considered a rather big point man who, in all likelihood, will present mostly a size advantage for the opposition, particularly at the high school ranks.

Most importantly, for an athlete who figures to emerge as one of the nation’s finest point guards for the Class of 2018 by the time his prep career ends, Johnson’s all-around display at the AAU ranks has given way to a wealth of experience for a kid his age, a pivotal attribute that figures to prove beneficial for a Northwood Academy team that will be aiming to rebound from last year’s unsatisfactory 13-16 finish.

In a nutshell, as Johnson goes, the possibility exist that so could the Eagles in 2015-16.

By all accounts, that Johnson is expected to witness his role increase mightily this upcoming season for Northwood Academy essentially brings Eagle coach Chris Lattimer to smiles whenever he is asked to assess the skills and progress of his prized floor general.

“Dakari is the type of point guard college coaches love,” Lattimer told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson on Tuesday. “He has a very quick first step, extremely high (basketball) IQ, and has a deadly jump shot.”

What’s equally impressive for Johnson who, for the past couple of years, has thoroughly embraced the golden opportunity of putting his immense skills on display in tradition-rich, basketball-crazed North Carolina, is that he has evolved into an efficient ball handler and scorer, something about which will almost certain draw rave reviews from college scouts and recruiters during the course of what is expected to be a memorable prep hoops stint for the talented floor general.

GOOD AS ADVERTISED --- What’s equally impressive for Johnson who, for the past couple of years, has thoroughly embraced the golden opportunity of putting his immense skills on display in tradition-rich, basketball-crazed North Carolina, is that he has evolved into an efficient ball handler and scorer, something about which will almost certain draw rave reviews from college scouts and recruiters during the course of what is expected to be a memorable prep hoops stint for the talented floor general.

GOOD AS ADVERTISED — What’s equally impressive for Johnson who, for the past couple of years, has thoroughly embraced the golden opportunity of putting his immense skills on display in tradition-rich, basketball-crazed North Carolina, is that he has evolved into an efficient ball handler and scorer, something about which will almost certain draw rave reviews from college scouts and recruiters during the course of what is expected to be a memorable prep hoops stint for the talented floor general.

Take, for instance, Johnson’s performance a couple of summers ago in the YBOA National Championship during which he had had gone on a tear offensively — early and often.

A then-eighth grader who assumed a role on a 10-grade squad assembled by his father and retired military vet, Gregory Johnson, Dakari — known widely as “Kari” — essentially enjoyed an amateur hoops coming-out-party, of sorts. That’s when he caught by registering a team-high 28 points in the title game, a dazzling feat that led to him being named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

Consequently, Kari was the catalyst for East Hoke Middle’s basketball team, having guided the squad to consecutive championships, thus being christened the team’s Most Valuable Player.

Add to the fact that this up-and-coming hoops prodigy, who boasts lofty aspirations of playing at the collegiate and professional levels, have competed against a slew of the nation’s finest amateur players, and it’s no wonder many who have followed the hoops prowess of Kari believe he will be as good as advertised this upcoming season.

And beyond.

Once again, in case you don’t know him, remember the name: Dakari Johnson.

“He started playing basketball at the age of five,” said Gregory Johnson, assessing his son’s rise as a young baller. “We felt basketball could be his thing because at that age, he was so much faster than all the other kids his age. The coaches depended on him to bring the ball up the court. I guess you could say he was destined to be a point guard. How I knew he could be special came at a parks and recreation basketball draft. That was my first year coaching parks, and recreation basketball and I was away with the military the previous year, so many of the coaches didn’t know me. So my son was the first name came up in the draft. I would watch these grown men rant and rave over Dakari.”

Fortunately for Kari, many who have followed him on the amateur circuit in recent years have been ranting and raving ever since.

Given his wealth of success in recent years, don’t expect that change anytime soon.

NATIONAL STANDOUT? Add to the fact that this up-and-coming hoops prodigy, who boasts lofty aspirations of playing at the collegiate and professional levels, have competed against a slew of the nation’s finest amateur players --- most notably against Kenny Smith, Jr., the son of former NBA player and current TNT NBA analyst Kenny Smith --- and it’s no wonder many who have followed the hoops prowess of Kari believe he will be as good as advertised this upcoming season.  And beyond.

NATIONAL STANDOUT? Add to the fact that this up-and-coming hoops prodigy, who boasts lofty aspirations of playing at the collegiate and professional levels, have competed against a slew of the nation’s finest amateur players, several of whom are sons of former NBA players, it’s no wonder many who have followed the hoops prowess of Kari believe he will be as good as advertised this upcoming season.
And beyond.

Among the reasons is Kari enjoyed a stellar freshman campaign in which he averaged 16 points, six rebounds, five assists, and two steals. In addition, he was named to the All-Conference team, while placing third overall in the voting for Conference Player of the Year as a freshman.

Still, his masterful display as a newcomer enabled him to garner All-Tournament honors as well as the County’s Rookie of the Year, team MVP and captain.

A pretty compelling introduction for a floor general who, well, in case you don’t know him.

“He is a leader and a winner, and his game will continue to progress,” Lattimer said of Kari. “Dakari is a motivated student and has outstanding character.”

Let alone a kid whom college scouts and recruiters will come to know pretty well this year.

And beyond.

Once again, in case you don’t know him, remember the name: Dakari Johnson.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

AndreAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

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