Meechie Johnson Jr.’s final season of high school basketball is going to be a family affair.
After one season rehabbing a torn anterior cruciate ligament at the Osborne Academy in Willoughby, Ohio, the Ohio State verbal commitment for the class of 2021 will be transferring back to his prior home of Garfield Heights. There, he will join his cousin, Sonny Johnson Jr., a Penn State verbal commitment for the class of 2022, to form what should be a formidable backcourt.
Overseeing it all will be head coach Sonny Johnson Sr. and his top assistant, Meechie Johnson Sr.
"He’s been around the program since he’s born, with me coaching there and my brother being the head coach there," Meechie Johnson Sr. said of his son. "That’s where his heart wanted to be, to be back with his family and his brothers and play with my nephew. There were a lot of different prep schools reaching out but he just wanted to go back home."
The last time Meechie Johnson Jr. took the court for a high school team, he suffered the injury to his knee during the playoffs of his sophomore season. He then transferred following that year and enrolling at the nearby academy, where he continued to rehabilitate the injury while planning to return for his senior season.
Now he’s back in action, having played publicly for AAU team Indy Heat in recent weeks.
"People don’t understand how much he really wants to win, how much he matured," Sonny Johnson Sr. said. "During the year he was injured he went back and watched all his game footage from his sophomore year and he’s so ready because he learned so much about the game. That just shows he’s a student of the game, that he’s ready to go to another level and take his team with him."
Meechie Johnson Sr. said his son carries a 3.8 grade-point average and will have no academic concerns with his return to Garfield Heights.
Meechie Johnson Jr. isn’t the only big-name player to opt to transfer from the academy. Charles Bediako, a five-star center in the 2021 class and native Canadian, recently announced his transfer from Osborne Academy to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
The 247Sports.com composite database lists Meechie Johnson Jr. as a four-star recruit, the No. 89 national recruit and the No. 2 player from Ohio now that Bediako has left the state. He’s grown, too, and is now 6 feet 3 and 175 pounds.
"It’s beyond special when you have one of the top 25 players in the country, to me, coming home, a Mr. Basketball candidate coming home, and a kid who I feel truly loves the game and will do whatever it takes to win and who can rise the level of intensity in your program," Sonny Johnson Sr. said.
"The ultimate goal is to win, to win a state title," Meechie Johnson Sr. said. "That’s the only thing that matters. Mr. Basketball and that kind of stuff would be great, but winning is the main goal. Having fun."
Winning and fun could all go together this season. When news of the transfer got out Saturday, Sonny Johnson Jr. posted a 20-second video to his Twitter account of some new moves he dubbed the "I Got Meechie Back" dance.
I just came up with a BRAND NEW DANCE Called. I got MEECHIE back. @AdamJardy @NEOhsSports @highmajorscoop @PrepHoopsOH @mgoul @usatodayhss @damestring @OSUHoopsInsider @NEO_Spotlight @ReggieLewis_12 @Treylew3 @TweetCoachTweet @HWBBall15 @MunchCleveland @endless_motor @hoops_oh pic.twitter.com/xPHeICWUsV— Sonny Johnson (@sonnyjohnson32) July 4, 2020
It could resurface this season.
"You know what? I might do it the first game, but definitely I want to do it when we’re down there in the state Final Four," he said with a laugh.