Meechie Johnson sits on the bench – except when he’s on his feet celebrating a big shot by one his teammates – knowing the repaired ACL in his right knee is strong enough to play.
“The doctor told me if the national championship game is tomorrow for college my knee is strong enough,” he said Friday night after watching his ISA Andrews Osborne team knock off Hillcrest Prep of Arizona 81-68 in the Flyin’ To The Hoop opener at Trent Arena.
But to play the way Johnson is capable of? To play like one of the top point guards in the nation? To play like he expects to as a freshman at Ohio State in the 2021-22 season?
“Is my confidence there? No,” he said. “Is my explosion there? No. Is my lateral movement there for defense? No. So overall as a player I don’t feel like I’m ready, but strength-wise I am ready.”
Three days ago Johnson was cleared to begin his on-court rehab. He won’t be in uniform for ISA until next season, but he expects to be ready for the spring-summer AAU season with Bates Fundamentals.
Johnson will spend the next three to four weeks doing cone drills, getting in shape and regaining his rhythm on pull-up jumpers and coming off screens. He will start playing one-on-one in February, then progress to three-on-three and eventually open gym in March.
“One day at a time,” he said.
Johnson made a splash at Flyin’ as a sophomore last year with Garfield Heights and made the all-tournament team. Then he injured his knee in the state playoffs. He decided nearby ISA in Northeast Ohio was the best next step for him. Even though he knew he would miss the entire season, he transferred to compete against the highest competition possible in games and practice.
“I’m happy is because I’m around some people that I’ve made brothers,” he said. “I fit in well, and everything runs smooth. I was happy at Garfield, too. It was the same way over there, but it’s a just a new direction over here. I’m around new people and they’re preparing me for college, too. I want to be a pro, and I feel like being here is preparing me to be a pro.”
That doesn’t make it any easier to sit on the bench because his biggest goals are to win and compete.
“I told Coach (Chris) Holtmann that when I was coming to Ohio State that I want to come here and compete and win you a national championship,” Johnson said. “I know that’s so hard but as me being the point guard of the team I want to compete and win.”
Homecoming: When Mike Sharavjamts entered the game for Prolific Prep on Friday night he heard his name shouted from the stands. Some of his teammates from Legacy Christian in Xenia last year were there to watch their friend.
Sharavjamts came from Mongolia last year to play as a freshman at Legacy and helped lead it to a league championship.
“It was a good year last year and learning about American basketball,” he said. “And this year I know about American basketball, and I’m trying my best.”
Prolific found out about Sharavjamts last offseason from one of its stars, Texas Tech-bound Nimari Burnett, when they played in the same tournament. Sharavjamts has grown two inches and is a 6-8 backup point guard. He played 10 minutes Friday in an 84-78 victory over Huntington Prep. He made a 3-pointer on his only shot attempt and was in on defense late in the game because of his length.
“He’s got really good vision, he’s a good shooter, he’s got a huge upside,” said Prolific coach Joey Fuca. “Not a lot of people know about him.”
Sharavjamts has an offer from Division I Eastern Washington. Fuca expects the offers to grow into mid- and high-major offers by the time Sharavjamts is a senior.
Big Ten futures: Three seniors headed to Big Ten teams made impacts in the Prolific-Huntington game.
Huntington point guard A.J. Hoggard is headed to Michigan State. He scored 15 points and had 11 assists. Hoggard is 6-4 and plenty strong enough for the physical play in the Big Ten.
Prolific got 19 points and seven rebound off the bench from 6-10 Coleman Hawkins, a power forward bound for Illinois. His teammate Mawot Mag, a 6-7 wing, started and scored seven points. He will play at Rutgers.
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