Montverde Academy’s sprawling campus near the western bank of Lake Apopka has a distinctly Floridian feel. Spanish-style terracotta roofing adorns most buildings, and small palm trees sway outside the administration office.
On this warm February day, as the Northeast digs out from a blizzard, the air here is thick and humid, and it smells like rain is near. But inside the school’s main gym, there is an unmistakable slice of New York.
Dakari Johnson, a 6-foot-10, 265-pound center from Brooklyn, is lacing up his sneakers and pulling a brace over his left knee before basketball practice. The University of Kentucky recruit is big and powerful, and his wide, gentle smile conceals both his tenacity and his struggle.