Meechie Johnson Jr. is exactly where he’s supposed to be.
He should be turning heads on a high school court and leading Garfield Heights to a deep run in the state tournament in his senior season. But he’s most definitely supposed to be in Columbus right now and, thankfully for the Buckeyes, he is.
With injuries to C.J. Walker and to Jimmy Sotos, Johnson has had his number called maybe a little bit sooner than even he anticipated.
He saw his first collegiate action in the previous game against Rutgers but made his first real impact in Ohio State’s win over Northwestern with six points (2-of-3), one rebound and one assist in 11 minutes.
“Meechie Johnson had some terrific minutes, terrific minutes,” head coach Chris Holtmann said. “So happy for him. I can’t overstate how hard that is to do what he’s doing right now. Just tremendous.”
Originally a four-star 2021 commit, Johnson Jr. reclassified and enrolled early at Ohio State, arriving in Columbus in mid-December. Then the work really began.
“That’s the challenge as a coach, right, you’re throwing him mid-year, a young man that just joined your team in mid-December,” Holtmann said. “Now, you’re saying, ‘Hey, hop in, play 15, 10 minutes in the best league in the country and, oh, by the way, you’re also gonna to play one of the most important positions on the floor, the point guard position. Learn our defensive system, learn our offensive system and, by the way, don’t overthink, just play.’ That’s a lot to ask of a young man. To his credit, he’s been very attentive, really bought in. Meechie Johnson has really helped this team from day one, both in practice and now in games. Says a lot about the kind of young man he is and he’s also fearless as a player, fearless as a player, and we knew that when we recruited him. There is a fearlessness to how he plays.
Johnson Jr. has already made quite an impression on his older teammates as well, especially with his confidence, his willingness to learn and his work ethic.
“You don’t see that a lot with freshmen coming in, the confidence that he’s been playing with,” said Justin Ahrens. “Especially in practice, he’s been getting his teammates involved really well as a point guard. Obviously, you’ve seen out there, hitting them two big shots tonight. He wasn’t scared to let it fly. That’s good for him, he’s living up to the moment and I’m excited for him.”
Justice Sueing added, “Meechie, he’s full of confidence and we love that about him. Being the point guard on the floor, you have to be able to carry a team and lead them the right way. He’s a young buck on the team but he’s really taking in all the lessons and all the advice and criticism that we’ve been giving him. He got his little two three’s off tonight, got his confidence going. We’re going to continue to build that for him.”
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