By LARRY VAUGHT
CHICAGO — Here’s more with Kentucky commit Dakari Johnson from the McDonald’s All-American Game:
Question: What do you weigh now?
Johnson: “Around 255. Coach (John) Calipari sent me a treadmill workout to do every day. I am trying to get down to 240 and then hit the weight room hard this summer to build it all back up with muscle.”
Question: Is it fair to say that you like knocking people around and playing physical inside?
Johnson: “I am a physical guy. That is what I do best, so I have to be physical in the paint to score and rebound. Rebounding is my strength. I am unselfish and I have real good post moves. I think I am just a real good teammate.”
Question: Can you go outside and score at Kentucky?
Johnson: “I am working on that every day. At the next level I can’t just bully guys all the time. I have to step out and hit a few jump shots, so that is what I am working on every day.”
Question: Does this McDonald’s All-American Game give you a chance to show Kentucky fans what you can do?
Johnson: “A little bit. It is an all-star game, so I don’t know how many touches I will get. And also I am trying to get some rest because the next day we (Montverde) have a game in the national championships in (Washington) D.C. I don’t know what the plan for the game tomorrow wil be. I am also trying to win a national championship in high school before I get to college and hopefully in college I can win one and then the NBA.”
Question: How often do you talk with the Kentucky coaches?
Johnson: “I talk to them every single week. They keep me updated and also tell me what I need to work on. That is one thing I like. They don’t just tell me what I am good at. They tell me things that I need to work on.”
Question: Since Calipari said this was a humbling season for him, have you noticed a more humble UK coach?
Johnson: “It is pretty hard coming off a national championship to have that type of season, but it should be all good next year. I think we will be really good.”
Question: What has the overall experience in Chicago been like for you?
Johnson: “It is great just hanging out with all the guys I have been competing with over the years and getting to know them is really a great feeling.”
Question: What does Julius Randle do best?
Johnson: “He just does everything. He is 6-8, he can handle the ball, passes like a point guard, shoots it. He is just really versatile.’
Question: How good is Marcus Lee, the player maybe the most under the radar among UK’s six McDonald’s All-Americans?
Johnson: “He is really good. Of course, he is another athletic big man that helps me because he is a shot blocker and I am not really a shot blocker. I think he is real good. I think he is underrated. I think he will have to prove next year how good he can be.”
Question: Will a frontcourt of Randle, Johnson, Lee, Cauley-Stein and Kyle Wiltjer be one of the best in college basketball next year?
Johnson: “We have to prove ourselves, but it looks good on paper. But we have to prove ourselves first.”
Question: Did you want to tell Aaron Gordon he was wrong when he said during his commitment to Arizona here Tuesday that he was going to win a national title?
Johnson: “It is what it is. Everybody has their opinion, but I know we are going to work hard to win it next year. We all talk about it (winning a title), but we all also talk about how much hard work it will take to win a championship.”
Question: Do you have everything academically in order to where you will be at UK in June to start summer classes/workouts?
Johnson: “Yes and June 6 is when I am supposed leave to go to Kentucky to start summer school and workouts.”
Question: Are you excited just to get out on your own and be on campus?
Johnson: “I am looking forward to it. I am trying to finish high school now, but it will be fun. It will be a lot of pressure, but will be fun. I am used to mixing academics and athletics. My school now is a real tough school academically, so I am used to that part of it.”
Question: Since your mother is a guidance counselor at your school, how important are academics to her?
Johnson: “She has me on lockdown. I can’t get anything below a C.”
Question: Is it true that you are a talented ping pong player?
Johnson: “That is my sport right there. I am just long and can hit it easy. I beat Wayne Selden, who is going to Kansas, here because he was talking smack, so I had to beat him in ping pong.”
Question: So you will be the best ping pong player at Kentucky next year?
Johnson: “Of course. That is a given.”