When Ohio State offered his son before he had played a single high school game, Demetrius Johnson started to hear the gossip. As a freshman on the same Garfield Heights team as Alonzo Gaffney, Ohio’s top prospect for the class of 2019, it was assumed that the offer was extended to curry favor with the five-star recruit.
Now, with a freshman season under his belt, more scholarship offers to his name and an unofficial visit to Ohio State on Monday under his belt, Meechie Johnson is proving his merit. Listed at 5 feet 11 and 160 pounds, the point guard prospect for the class of 2021 holds offers from Georgetown, UNLV and a host of others including, most recently, Florida.
This most recent visit to check out the Buckeyes was part of the process of continuing to build relationships with the coaching staff. They also got to check out some new spots on campus and spend time with the current team, which has begun summer workouts.
“My son is very interested in Ohio State, so with the new coaching staff coming in, we want them to see us and we want to see them too and get to know them as well,” Demetrius Johnson said. “He wanted to play with the players to learn and get a good feel for what it is to get to play with college players. Some of them are a little taller and more physical than him, but he was able to hold his own out there. It was real fun to watch.”
The speed of the offer caught the family by surprise.
“It was pretty shocking at the time when they offered because he was so young,” he said. “He didn’t even play a high school game yet. They came down to see Alonzo Gaffney and when they came down I couldn’t believe Meechie played the way he did. He just played at an all-time high level in front of them and it just happened.”
The Johnson family already has a tie to the coaching staff: Johnson played at Kent State while current Ohio State assistant coach Ryan Pedon was the program’s director of basketball operations.
It’s not the only relationship that’s paying dues in the younger Johnson’s development. His father said Meechie Johnson is friends with LeBron James’ son and that he talks regularly with Dwyane Wade.
“Dwayne Wade talks to him a lot and tries to keep things real and let him know that you’ve got to keep working,” Demetrius Johnson said. “Everything is about his work. If you want certain things in life, you’re going to have to work.”
Since the season ended, Meechie Johnson has been working on his game and improved his shooting and ball handling, his father said, while also filling out his body and getting stronger.
A college decision isn’t on the immediate horizon for Meechie Johnson, who is getting ready for the July live evaluation period, but the family is looking for a school with a good family atmosphere that can also prepare him for life if basketball doesn’t work out. Gaffney is committed to Ohio State but will play at a prep school during his senior season, but Sonny Johnson Jr., who will be a freshman this season, is also receiving early recruiting interest from the Buckeyes.
It has had Garfield Heights coach Sonny Johnson talking about a pipeline of top players going from his program to Ohio State. Demetrius Johnson, his brother, said that’s not something he’s opposed to but cautioned about making the best individual decision.
“An Ohio State pipeline would be unbelievable but at the end of the day I always say it’s about him feeling comfortable and him having a lot of say-so,” he said. “Ohio State was my dream school growing up, but just because I feel like that, he has to have a feel for whatever school he decides to go to. We’re excited. We’re so excited about Ohio State. There’s nothing like it as an Ohio kid. Everyone dreams about it as a school, but I also want him to get to know and get a feel for what you want to do and where you want to go. It’s still early. You’ve still got a lot of work to do.”