Dakari Johnson says he'll be back at UK next season

April 23, 2014 

NCAA Kentucky Final Four Basketball

Kentucky center Dakari Johnson runs the floor during practice for their NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Friday, April 4, 2014, in Dallas. Kentucky plays Wisconsin on Saturday, April 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)


University of Kentucky freshman Dakari Johnson announced Wednesday afternoon that he plans to return to UK for his sophomore season in 2014-15.

Earlier Wednesday, sophomore teammate Alex Poythress announced that he, too, would remain at UK. “This year has been for me a year of transition, growth and so much fun! I’ve learned a lot about myself personally through adversity and triumph which I know made me a stronger individual," Johnson said in a statement released by UK. "After looking at the information provided to me by Coach Cal and the NBA committee, my family and I made the decision for me to return to UK for my sophomore year. Returning to school allows me to build on my leadership skills, improve my individual basketball strength and conditioning skills, and have another opportunity to accomplish one of my individual goals: winning an NCAA national championship in college."

Johnson averaged 5.2 points and 3.9 rebounds in 39 games as a freshman. He started 18 games and averaged 14.1 minutes per game. The 7-foot Johnson also blocked 23 shots. He scored a season-high 15 points in Kentucky's victory over Louisville in the NCAA Tournament.

Johnson's mother, Makini Campbell, said that when she and her son weighed the decision whether to remain at UK or turn pro, Dakari did not worry about which other UK players were staying or going.

"I think what he learned this year -- regardless of a loaded talented team – is that each player brings something unique to the group that attributed to the March run," Campbell said in the statement. "I’ve always been aware of his goal to win a national championship in high school, college, and the NBA. For him to confidently state what he did after his national high school championship game and make it to the finals in his freshman year of college was prosperous within itself. All of this while successfully working on his degree and enjoying college life whenever he could."

Johnson is the sixth Kentucky player to announce his intentions this off-season. Sophomores Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress said they will remain at Kentucky, as did freshman Marcus Lee. Julius Randle and fellow freshman James Young have decided to turn pro.

Decisions have not been made public for freshmen Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison.

The deadline for entering the draft is 11:59 p.m. EDT Sunday.

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