Ohio State basketball gets commitment from 2021 guard Meechie Johnson Jr.

Adam Jardy
Meechie Johnson Jr., right, and another Garfield Heights High School product, Alonzo Gaffney, left, attended Ohio State's game against Iowa on Feb. 10, 2018, in Value City Arena. [Barbara J. Perenic]

It was a few days ago that Meechie Johnson Jr. called his dad to tell him about a feeling that he had.

Halfway through his high school career at Garfield Heights, the four-star point guard prospect had plenty of time to raise his profile, add more scholarship offers and extend his recruitment. Instead, he had a message for his Meechie Sr.: He was ready to commit to Ohio State.

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“I mean, the coaches were always calling me, hitting me up, just checking on me constantly,” Johnson Jr. said Tuesday evening. “I just got the feeling, man. I really got the feeling like I wanted to be there. I told my dad I wanted to get down there and do it right.”

During an unofficial visit Tuesday, while in coach Chris Holtmann’s office, a conversation took place that led to the 5-foot-11, 160-pound Johnson becoming Ohio State’s second commitment for the class of 2021.

Although he was sure enough of his decision to let Ohio State freshman and former Garfield Heights teammate Alonzo Gaffney know it was likely coming, there was still a conversation to be had with Holtmann.

Johnson said he didn’t ask for guaranteed minutes or to be an automatic starting spot upon arrival. All he wants is the chance.

“I told him, ‘I’m just asking for the opportunity to be who I am and come in and work. If you can trust me as a player and I can trust you as a coach, I’m all-in,’ ” Johnson said. “He said he trusts me. He’s going to give me the opportunity, I’m going to have to work, nothing is going to be guaranteed.

“He said, ‘Are you in?’ I said, ‘You’ve got me, Coach.’ ”

Blessed day for me and my family! I would like to take the time to thank ALL of the coaches who ever texted, called and offered my son. We’re truly blessed and grateful. With that being said, Meechie committed to The Ohio State University. Go BUCKS, we are staying home!

— Demetrius Johnson (@HWBBall15) August 13, 2019

Johnson also had offers from Louisville, Georgetown and Miami University, among others, and was receiving attention from schools such as Michigan State. His national recruiting ranking (No. 72 according to the 247Sports composite database) as well as his offer list was likely impacted by a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered during his sophomore season.

Johnson is expected to be fully healthy by the start of the season, his father said, and throughout his injury and rehab, Ohio State’s pursuit never wavered.

“They’ve been recruiting him real hard,” Johnson Sr. said. “They recruited him real hard before he had the injury and after the injury they recruited him the same way. They’re real consistent on him and just pushing him to be a Buckeye.”

Besides being the second player in the class of 2021, he’s the second Ohioan. Convoy Crestview power forward Kalen Etzler committed in May and is listed as a four-star prospect in the 247Sports rankings. The two have talked plenty since Etzler’s commitment, Johnson Jr. said.

Etzler’s uncle, Doug, played for Ohio State. Johnson’s father played collegiately and has ties to the Ohio State coaching staff despite never suiting up for the program. First, he played for Kent State while Buckeyes assistant Ryan Pedon was on staff. Then, after he transferred to Purdue Fort Wayne, he was coached by Terry Johnson, who is also on Holtmann’s staff.

“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.”

Now no longer worried about his recruitment, Johnson Jr. said he’s ready to focus on becoming the player the Ohio State coaching staff said it sees in him.

“Ohio State likes that I’m a competitor,” he said. “I told them, and they know this: If a team is better than us, I want to go out there and give it my all and I’m going to do everything I can to win. They also know I can score and get my teammates involved. They know I can lead, and that’s what they want me to do when I come in as a freshman and for however long I’m there for.”