I couldn’t think of a better time for Dakari Johnson to be stepping up his game. When Willie Cauley-Stein decides to check out for a game or two, maybe three, the Kentucky Wildcats don’t have to stress, they have Dakari Johnson. Maybe Johnson has always been what the team needed and no one really saw it. Coach Cal has a lot of star players to choose from to throw into the game at any moment, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Throwing Dakari Johnson into the game against Tennessee may have been one of his best decisions this season because Johnson saw an opportunity and ran with it.
While Willie Cauley-Stein has been on hiatus, Dakari Johnson has taken over his starting position and taking full advantage of it. Johnson, who was seeing less than 10 minutes a game, with a few extra minutes here and there, until his break up against Tennessee, now he is spending much more time on the court. Is he better than Willie Cauley-Stein? No, I’m not saying that at all, Willie Cauley-Stein has more experience and growth than Johnson. But Johnson is giving him a run for his money. Johnson is consistently showing more hustle than Willie Cauley-Stein has been lately, therefore he is seeing more time on the court.
In three out of the last four games, Johnson matched or succeeded his season high in three different aspects of the game. Against LSU, Johnson scored 15 points, his previous season high being 10 against Eastern Michigan in November. Against Ole Miss, Johnson blocked 4 shots, one up from his performance against Texas A&M. Johnson then grabbed 8 rebounds in the most recent game at Mississippi State, matching his 8 rebounds in the 5th game of the season for the Wildcats against Texas-Arlington. Even more impressive, Dakari Johnson has shot 100% from the field twice in the last 5 games, went 7-8 against LSU. Johnson is also making vital free throws, shooting 3-3 at Mississippi State
Dakari Johnson is coming together for the Wildcats at the perfect time. March is just around the corner, his constant hustle and heart is a motor the Wildcats need as they’re forming together into the team they knew they could be. A team working towards a championship run. Dakari Johnson just adds much needed hustle and depth to the Wildcats roster. Every teammate needs to realize how much positivity is coming from Dakari Johnson and appreciate him for it. His constant hustle, effort and drive keeps the Wildcats winning games.