Dakari Johnson looked great this summer in the Bahamas, the 7-footer slimmed down significantly and moving much better in a series of exhibition games than he did during his freshman year at the University of Kentucky. He looked good to start this season, too, sprinting and scoring and slamming and swatting shots more than he ever had before.
But then the former McDonald’s All-American and projected first-round NBA draft pick hit a skid. He was getting swarmed and swiped at and shoved in the post, double-teamed by smaller opponents, and suddenly had no answers. He was missing layups, losing rebounds.
“Shooting it with the wrong hand,” coach John Calipari said, “not jumping, not shooting it quick.”
Johnson entered Tuesday night’s game against Missouri having hit just 8 of 20 shots in the previous five games – then started 1 of 4 against the Tigers. But he seemed to flip a switch midgame, started securing rebounds with both hands and scoring with authority in the paint. He finished with eight points and seven rebounds in just 19 minutes.