UK Basketball: How Does Dakari Johnson Compare to Anthony Davis, Nerlens Noel?

Doug BrodessCorrespondent IJanuary 6, 2013

UK Basketball: How Does Dakari Johnson Compare to Anthony Davis, Nerlens Noel?

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    Dakari Johnson, ESPN's No. 1 center in the recruiting Class of 2013, committed to the University of Kentucky on Saturday.

    He is the most recent member of John Calipari's recruiting haul for this year, which could be considered as one of the best collection of incoming freshmen of all time.

    Because Johnson plays down low, the immediate reaction of some is to figuratively put him side-by-side with current UK big man Nerlens Noel and last year's national player of the year and NCAA champ, Anthony Davis.

    Here is a quick look at how the talented trio's games are similar and how they differ...let the Commonwealth comparisons begin!


    Note: Stats for this article come from's Kentucky Wildcats team site

Measurables (Height and Weight)

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    All three of these outstanding big men are listed at 6'10", but their frames are drastically different.

    Anthony Davis is lean and long, weighing in at 220 lbs.

    Nerlens Noel has worked hard on adding bulk to his body since arriving on campus. He weighed around 215 lbs when he landed in Lexington. He is now a more sculpted 228 lbs, with a ready-to-bang physique.

    Young Mr. Johnson has still yet another body type. At 250 lbs, Johnson could be described as a "Space Eater" or a "Space Eater-Plus."

    Ben Roberts of indicated that Johnson has "lost about 60 pounds" in the last two years, and got in much better shape in the process.

    He will be able to pound and take a pounding when he sets up shop on the block at Rupp Arena.

Offensive Abilities

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    Just as we saw that these three have different body-types, they also have different offensive skill sets.

    Anthony Davis' ultra-versatility helped him torture teams that came up against UK on its way to cutting down the nets in New Orleans.

    Because he hit a late growth spurt, he possessed a lot of wing player talents when he went from 6'3" at the beginning of his junior in high school to a 6'10" collegiate phenom. His mobility and agility allowed him to break defenders down off the dribble or back-door everyone, resulting in countless alley-oop dunks.

    Nerlens Noel is an athletic freak around the basket and an offensive rebounding beast, pulling in almost three O-boards per game.

    He gets a high percentage of his buckets off of penetration-dishes, alley-oops or tip-jams.

    Dakari Johnson is more of a traditional back-to-the-basket post man. He understandably provides a large target down low. 

    He has a nice assortment of post-moves that help him face up in the paint. Johnson will bring a developing jump hook when he takes the court as a collegiate player.

Overall Defensive Skills

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    When it comes to basic defensive skills, these three are anything but basic. As much as each one makes a definite impact on the offensive end, they all have highly developed talents in shutting down opponents.

    Anthony Davis could guard multiple positions even though he was listed as a PF. His length allowed him to create tons of difficulties in terms of deflecting passes or challenging or blocking shots (see next slide).

    Nerlens Noel has an exceptional knack for getting his hands on passes and getting steals. Noel is currently averaging 2.62 SPG, good for No. 14 in the nation. He is one of only four players in the top 25 in that statistical category who is not a guard.

    ESPN's Insider Scouting Report (subscription required) said this about Noel coming out of high school:

    He is like a one-man zone with his ability to protect the basket inside the paint but is also a threat to fly out to the perimeter and erase mistakes when the situations warrants.

    Because Dakari Johnson's body is still a work in progress, his defensive skills are evolving too. Don't think that means he is not dominant on D.

    Johnson is more of a typical lane-clogger and block-banger.

Shot Blocking

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    Shot blocking is not a trivial matter for this trio.

    Anthony Davis was one of the best shot-blockers in college basketball history.

    His unreal wingspan allowed him to set the NCAA record for shots blocked by a freshmen with 186 rejections in 40 games (4.7 BPG).

    Before the current season started, Eric Lindsey, editor of, said this about Noel's shot-blocking abilities:

    Some analysts have tabbed Noel as a better shot blocker than Davis because of his leaping ability and knack for swatting shots with both hands, one comparison Noel doesn’t mind people making.  In his quest to create his own legacy, he wants to rewrite the records Davis set a season ago.

    You have to admire his confidence and ambition. Because Noel is averaging 3.54 BPG, he ranks as No. 5 in the nation.

    Dakari Johnson does not have the lift of either Davis or Noel. He blocks his share of shots but very few collegiate players could keep up with AD or N-squared.


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    Aside from having outrageous hoops skills, both Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel have personal qualities that people that have any familiarity with Kentucky Basketball consider as trademarks.

    Anthony Davis turned a grooming faux pas into a personal brand. Because of his well-known unibrow, he actually went to the extent of trademarking the phrases "Raise the Brow" and "Fear the Brow."

    Nerlens Noel's hi-top fade is so dynamic that it has its own Twitter account.

    As of now, we don't know if Dakari has an unusual attribute, an atypical feature or an undisclosed mannerism that could turn into a personal logo...stay tuned. 


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    Anthony was amazing.

    Nerlens is nasty.

    What will Dakari Johnson become when he puts on the Blue and White?

    We will begin to find out in 10 months, but, it's likely that he will continue the tradition of John Calipari's fantastic freshmen frontcourt phenoms.

    Oh, yeah...looks like Dakari already has some good friends.