24 Oct Ohio State Basketball Commit Meechie Johnson Targets Spring Return
WILLOUGHBY, Ohio — Living in a dorm, early mornings training, school and more training. Demetrius “Meechie” Johnson Jr. might as well already be enrolled at Ohio State.
However, his rehabilitation from a torn ACL took him on a much shorter trip to Willoughby and the International Sports Academy at Andrews Osborne.
Johnson, who starred his first two years of high school basketball at Garfield Heights, committed in August to Ohio State and enrolled two weeks later at the academy. He made his plans clear Wednesday after watching his new teammates practice: return next spring in time for AAU, play his senior year at ISA and then join the Buckeyes.
Johnson also dismissed the notion that he wants to play a fifth year with a post-graduate team before college.
“It never had anything to do with that,” Johnson said. “I never thought of it. Me coming here was just to really prepare me for college.”
Johnson averaged 23.0 points per game last season at Garfield Heights before injuring his knee in the second round of the OHSAA district tournament.
He has grown steadily the last two years, sprouting from a 5-foot-10 freshman guard to about 6-3 while he rehabilitates at ISA. Johnson spent much of Wednesday’s practice talking with coaches, working the scoreboard for drills and interacting with teammates.
One of them includes another OSU target from the Class of 2021 in 6-11 center Charles Bediako.
“He’s definitely a leader,” Bediako said. “That’s the first thing I saw when he came to our program. He’s always got a smile on his face.”
Bediako’s recruiting rise began last year with Ohio State and Dayton among interested schools when he enrolled last year at ISA. He said they wanted to see more from him at the time. He played this summer with Canada’s U19 team and now has a growing list of offers that includes the Buckeyes, Illinois and Alabama among the biggest schools.
Johnson remains grateful for the interest Ohio State maintained throughout the earlier stages of his recruiting process. Assistant coach Ryan Pedon routinely called to check up on him.
“For them to still be calling every other day like that injury didn’t happen, that’s where that bond was built,” Johnson said. “I’m here now and happy.”
Having that commitment in place also is why Johnson is not rushing himself. He is currently concentrating on strengthening his quad, hips and core. Johnson added his rehabilitation timeline comes with the goal of more intense workouts in December, start playing one-on-one in January and three-on-three the following month. By the end of March, about a year after his injury, he hopes to regularly play five-on-five games.
At ISA, he is able to train with his basketball coaches and teammates without offseason regulations on organized team activities.
“Right now, the main thing really is just getting back healthy, getting back focused and getting this knee stronger,” he said.