April 18, 2013
Basketball's spring signing period is underway, and three committed Wildcats have made it official, signing National Letters of Intent with Kentucky.
Power forward Julius Randle, center Dakari Johnson and point guard Dominique Hawkins have signed with UK, the school announced Thursday, joining fall signees Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, James Young, Marcus Lee and Derek Willis.
That frees UK coach John Calipari to comment on the three newest Wildcats.
"The thing I like most about this group is its competitive spirit and its will to win," Calipari said in a release. "These guys are All-Americans and award winners, but more importantly they’re world champions, national champions and state champions. They know what it takes to win. The size and talent of the group will allow us to have tough, hard-nosed practices, which will carry over to the games. I'm excited for the opportunity to coach this group."
Here's Calipari's take on his newest players:
Point guard | Richmond, Ky. | Madison Central
Rivals rank: NR overall; NR point guard; Three Stars
Calipari on Hawkins: "I kept hearing about Dominique from Marquis Estill and my good friend Dr. Robert Palmer. When I watched him play, lead his team, and play with a will to win and fight, I was totally sold. At the Sweet Sixteen, he made sure he got his teammates involved and was always happy with their success, but when it was time to take over the game - when it was winning time - everyone in the building knew they were going to play through Dominique, which they did, and they won. The last UK player who was named Kentucky Mr. Basketball and won a state title in the same year was Darius Miller. He went to two Final Fours, won a national title and is now playing in the NBA. My hope is Dominique will be on the same path."
Center | Montverde, Fla. | Montverde Academy
Rivals rank: No. 9 overall, No. 2 center, Five Stars
Calipari on Johnson: "Dakari's improvement over the last year and a half has been phenomenal. His ability to be a true low-post threat adds an important piece to what our team will really need. He's patient when he gets the ball on the block and has a great understanding for how to use his size for a kid his age. Dakari is a great student and a great kid. He's won a high school championship, a world championship with Team USA, and he said he wants to win a national championship with us and an NBA championship. That statement says a lot about the type of winner he is."
Power forward | Plano, Texas | Prestonwood Christian Academy
Rivals rank: No. 2 overall, No. 1 power forward, Five Stars
Calipari on Randle: "Julius is another hard-working player who is a great student and person along with being a dominator on the court. He has that will to win that the players I've had who have become special have all had. That motor will be important to our success next year. Julius has the skill set to be an inside-outside guy for us. He has the ability to put it on the floor and beat guys off the dribble, but he's also got the toughness, size and ability to score against bigger defenders. At the end of the day, he's a true leader whose personal drive is off the charts."