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Former UK Standout Dakari Johnson Named MVP in China

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Former Kentucky men’s basketball center Dakari Johnson capped a dominating season in China’s National Basketball League with a championship and most valuable player honors on Friday.

Dakari Johnson in 2014 (Photo by Jamie H. Vaught)

Johnson backed up a sensational season by helping his NBL team, Anuyi Wenyi, to a four-game sweep of Guangxi Weizhuang in the NBL finals. The former UK men’s basketball star was nearly impossible to slow down with a double-double average over the four games.


The 7-footer recorded 20 points and 15 rebounds in the series-clinching final game Friday. He averaged 25.3 points, 15.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 blocks while shooting 64.1 from the field over the four games to earn MVP distinction.


During the regular season, Johnson posted 25.9 points, 15.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. He ranked third in the league in rebounds per game.


Johnson was a key player in Kentucky’s back-to-back Final Four appearances in 2014 and 2015. He averaged 5.1 points and 3.9 rebounds during the 2014 run to the national title game and 6.4 points and 4.6 rebounds during the 38-1 season that ended with a Final Four berth.


During two seasons with the Wildcats, Johnson appeared in 78 games with 450 total points and 334 rebounds. He shot 53.7% from the field.


Johnson was selected by the Oklahoma City Thunder with the 48th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. He spent most of his time with the Oklahoma City Blue in the NBA G League before appearing in an NBA game in the 2017-18 season. He has since played overseas.


Johnson is one of 49 players – including 38 at Kentucky – who have earned NBA Draft selection under John Calipari. More than 50 players who have played for Calipari have played in the NBA with those players making more than $2.2 billion in NBA contracts (no endorsements, overseas contracts, etc.). At Kentucky alone, Calipari’s players have nearly $1.9 billion in guaranteed contracts.

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