Ohio State landed a high-priority commitment for its class of 2021 Tuesday night when four-star guard Meechie Johnson pledged to the Buckeyes while on an unofficial visit to campus.
Johnson gives Ohio State its second commitment for the class and secures what figures to be one of the state’s top prospects in his class. To read what Johnson said about his commitment, and for thoughts from his father, you can click here for our story from immediately after when the news broke.Get the news delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our BuckeyeXtra newsletter
Not everything can fit in one post, however. Here are five things to know about this commitment and what it means for Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann and his staff.
1. He’s on pace for a full recovery.
Johnson checks in as the No. 71 recruit in the nation and a four-star prospect, but those figures would likely be higher if not for a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered during his sophomore season that obviously knocked him out for the remainder of the season and the summer AAU season.
The situation had no impact on how the Buckeyes recruited him, according to Johnson’s father, Meechie Johnson Sr.
“That was a big factor, to me,” he told The Dispatch. “I tell Meechie all the time that you’re going to get whatever you deserve. Ohio State stayed through all of this with him no matter what and they made him feel comfortable.”
The injury took place in March, and although his recovery is progressing nicely Johnson Sr. said they aren’t going to rush anything.
“They say he’s ahead of schedule,” he said. “We’re still going to take our time with it, but rehab is going great. He’s moving great and feeling great and in good spirits. He’ll be ready for the season, but I’m going to hold him out (for a while to be safe). We’re taking our time with it.”
2. There are significant ties to the current Ohio State roster.
First, there’s the obvious. Two seasons ago, Johnson was high school teammates at Garfield Heights with Alonzo Gaffney, who is now entering his freshman season with the Buckeyes. Gaffney committed to the Buckeyes after his junior season before ultimately transferring to Wolfeboro (New Hampshire) Brewster Academy for his senior season.
At the time of his commitment, Gaffney was a five-star recruit and the top prospect from Ohio. His stock dipped a bit during his year of prep school, and he ultimately wound up listed as a four-star recruit, No. 48 nationally and still the top native Ohioan.
“I’ve been talking to Zo a lot lately about should I come, what’s it like there,” Johnson Jr. said. “I didn’t know I was going to fully commit until I got here and talked to them (Tuesday). I had it in my mind that I was going to commit, but I had to talk to them first. On the way down here I told Zo I was thinking about doing it and if it sounds good I’ll do it. He kind of knew.
“He’s excited. We wish we could’ve played together his senior year, but he had to do what was best for him and now I’m just excited and happy.”
The two would be teammates when Gaffney is projected to be entering his junior season.
That’s not the only relationship for the Johnson family, however. His father played collegiate basketball for two teams: for Kent State from 2004-05 and then for Purdue Fort Wayne from 2007-08 after sitting out a year in between due to transfer rules.
From 2002-05, current Ohio State assistant coach Ryan Pedon was the director of basketball operations for the Golden Flashes. Then, from 2006-07, current Ohio State assistant coach Terry Johnson was an assistant coach for the Mastodons.
“Ohio State is the school you dream to go to,” Johnson Sr. said. “All of us in Ohio, you dream to go there. For me not to go there and for my son to go there, it’s a big blessing. It is just a crazy feeling all together.”
3. Multiple parties have been recruiting him to Ohio State.
I was at an AAU tournament in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in late July when I caught up with Kalen Etzler. The Convoy Crestview product had verbally committed to Ohio State for the class of 2021 in May where he told he had two key names he wanted to see join him in Columbus: Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary guard Malaki Branham, and Johnson.
Tuesday night, when the news of Johnson’s commitment went public, Etzler posted the following to Twitter and addressed it to Branham:
@MalakiBranham Meech and i are waiting on that commitment— Kalen Etzler (@kalen_etzler24) August 13, 2019
Johnson said he has been in constant contact with his future teammate.
“Yeah, he’s been recruiting me to come there with him,” he said. “I was just texting with him, and he’s excited as well.”
The significant of having two Ohioans committed to Ohio State this early in the process wasn’t lost on Johnson Sr.
“It’s huge,” he said. “The main thing is to keep Ohio kids. You want to keep the top kids in Ohio and I think coach Holtmann is doing an unbelievable job making sure that happens.”
4. The class has room for more.
As it stands, Ohio State currently has no commitments for its class of 2020. The Buckeyes have one available scholarship for the class at the moment, although the potential for a transfer or two following the season – an increasingly common situation in modern college basketball – could free up further spots that could be addressed by adding to the roster by way of a freshman, transfer or graduate transfer.
It all makes projecting how big the class of 2021 could be a bit of a crapshoot at this point, but expect the Buckeyes to sign three or four players for the class.