By Jared Peck
Former Kentucky center Dakari Johnson is an all-star, albeit in the Chinese Basketball Association.
In fact, Johnson, who signed with China’s Qingdao Eagles last September in lieu of trying to catch on with another NBA team, has been tearing up the CBA, averaging a double-double with 22.3 points and 15.1 rebounds per game. His rebound average leads the league. His two blocks per game ranks third.
In Sunday’s CBA all-star game, Johnson scored 20 points, going on 8-for-11 from the field for the North squad that also featured former UCLA standout Shabazz Muhammad (28 points). Johnson’s team lost to the South stars, who were led by BYU product Jimmer Fredette (39 points) and Oregon’s Joe Young (40 points.)
Johnson posted some all-star highlights and photos on his Twitter account Sunday.
With 30 of 47 regular-season games played, Johnson’s Eagles are 10-20 in 15th place in the 20-team league, three spots out of a playoff position.
Johnson, who was selected in the second round as the 48th overall pick by the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2015 after being part of Kentucky’s 38-1 Final Four run, spent his first two seasons as a pro for its NBA Developmental League affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blue. He made made the D-League’s all-rookie team in 2016 and its Western Conference All-Star team in 2017.
Last summer Johnson was part of deals that sent him from the Thunder to the Orlando Magic and then to the Memphis Grizzlies before being put on waivers. He played in 31 games for the Thunder, averaging 1.8 points and 1.1 rebounds in 5.2 minutes per game.