The Garfield Heights, Ohio, gym played host to quite a season for Tuesday night’s home opener. Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann and assistant Ryan Pedon made the trip to Northeast Ohio to see the Bulldogs host Shaw, and the trip figures to have been memorable for a number of reasons.
First, the obvious. LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and J.R. Smith were on hand for the game, which Garfield Heights won handily, 102-57.
Farther down the road, though, the visit was the latest in a series of events that has Garfield Heights coach Sonny Johnson feeling there could be a lot more interaction between his team and the Buckeyes.
“The interest that’s being shown, we’re trying to develop a pipeline here like no other,” Johnson told The Dispatch in a phone interview. “You’ve got Alonzo Gaffney, who they’re recruiting. You have Meechie Johnson, who they’re recruiting. Then you’ve got my son, who’s one of the top eighth-graders in the country, Sonny Johnson Jr. that I’m pretty sure they’re looking at as well. If some of these guys want to stay home and play for The Ohio State University, I think that’s a great deal.”
Gaffney, a junior, transferred from Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph, where he averaged 14.6 points and 6.9 rebounds last season. A five-star recruit, he’s ranked as the top prospect in Ohio by 247Sports.com for the class of 2019. Ohio State has offered, as have Michigan State, Florida, Georgetown, Iowa and others.
Meechie Johnson, whose given first name is Demetrius, is only a freshman, but the Buckeyes offered him while he attended the Nov. 29 home game against Clemson. A member of the class of 2022, he was offered by Louisville’s Rick Pitino earlier this fall.
Sonny Johnson said Ohio State has asked about recruiting his son and said the Buckeyes want to develop a pipeline between the schools. One factor that will help: Sonny Johnson has some longstanding ties with Pedon, who has spent time on staff at Miami (Ohio), Kent State and Toledo.
“Both of my brothers played for Ryan Pedon,” Sonny Johnson said. Meechie Johnson (Sr.) was with Ryan Pedon when he was at Kent State and my brother Julius Johnson was with Ryan Pedon when he was at Miami of Ohio so we’ve been knowing Pedon and dealing with him for a long time. That plays a big factor, because it’s got to be family and it’s got to be somebody you trust.
“Coach Holtmann has been outstanding with communication. If I call him, he picks up. He’s just a humble coach that’s going to do big things.
Against Shaw, Meechie Johnson had a game-high 22 points and Gaffney added 16.
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