The Coming Attraction: Dakari Johnson
The purpose of a coming attraction is to give audiences a snippet of what’s to come. Showing flashes of what could be greatness. Getting audiences hyped up in anticipation of the possibilities to come. In high school basketball coming attractions would be considered freshman (and even 8th graders) playing on the varsity level.
This “Coming Attraction” features Northwood Temple’s (Fayetteville, NC) 2018 Dakari Johnson. Standing at 5’10 and weighting about 175, Johnson doesn’t look like much. It’s only until you take a closer look that you recognize he has a good, muscular frame that enables him to hold his own as a starting point guard. Johnson’s physique allows him to withstand the contact that is dished out on a game-by-game basis.
Now you know this is not the only part of his game that stands out – otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading about him. Johnson has a high basketball IQ and demonstrates skill-sets that you don’t normally see from a 9th grader. An example is his ability to use “change of speed”, making it difficult for the defense to read his movement. In transition, Johnson knows how to interpret situations and make sound decisions to either push the ball, slow it down, change direction, or explode to the basket. He runs plays with precision, using good judgment to either draw the defense with a drive & dish, or quickly swing the ball to the shooter(s). When Johnson goes to the basket, he goes strong and can finish with either hand. Against man-to-man defense he does a tremendous job keeping the ball and his center of gravity low. This makes it hard for defenders to steal the ball and discourages them from reaching. Johnson is extremely tactical with his dribble and knows when to use an “in & out” or a crossover to get by his man.
Johnson is remarkable in P/R situations, using a variety of action based maneuvers to navigate through the defense. Coming off the screen he knows how to read his options. If the screeners’ defender steps up to help, Johnson uses his speed to break him down and get into the lane. If the defender lays off, Johnson can pull-up for the jump shot. Equally impressive is his ability to shoot the ball in different scenarios. He has the capability to knock down the the dribble pull-up jumper consistently. He’s also a sound shooter from 3, so leaving him left alone on the perimeter or giving him too much space would not be a good idea.
What truly amazes is the comprehensiveness of Johnson’s game has as a freshman. It’s evident that he puts in the hours necessary to make sure his skills are up to par. Still, it has to be an enormous obligation to not only start on varsity, but run the team. As Uncle Ben says, “with great power, comes great responsibility” (Amazing Spider-Man). When asked what helped him most in preparing for varsity basketball as a freshman, Johnson responded, “I believe because I work so hard that I’m prepared and nothing can stop me but myself and God. Plus, I always say a prayer, so I have no worry.” Even though Johnson is young, he remains humble and focused, proving that he is a leader who can run his team. He has accepted this responsibility and continues to thrive as he was named “All Conference” and voted to the “All Tournament Team”!
Overall, Johnson is a proven point guard who still has 3 more years of varsity basketball left. There’s always a sense of awe when a kid can make the transition from middle school to high school and be effective right away. Johnson’s upside is enormous and you can certainly look for more to come.