Meechie Johnson Jr. wins it for Ohio State with a proud father in the stands


FORT MYERS, Fla. – The celebration reverberated through the Suncoast Credit Union Arena, going back at least a generation.

A hectic final minute between Ohio State and No. 21 Seton Hall was decided by a 3-pointer from Meechie Johnson Jr. with about two seconds of play time. After taking a pass from Kyle Young well behind the 3-point line, Johnson considered trying to drive past Bryce Aiken and stopped from about 25 feet instead.

When the final points came home in a 79-76 win for the Buckeyes, the loudest cheers belonged to the man who shared Johnson’s name. Demetrius “Meechie” Johnson Sr. sat about 10 rows behind the Ohio state bench clenching his fists, fighting back tears somewhat unsuccessfully, and yelling for his son at the greatest moment of his career.

Until now.

“It’s just a blessing from God, man,” said Johnson Jr. after the game. “Ohio State has always been a dream school of mine. And to be like this right now, to win the game with your team, and for the state of Ohio, for Cleveland, to win it all, it means a lot.

An accomplished player in his day, Johnson Sr. is still working as a professional basketball coach after retiring from his own career prematurely when Johnson Jr. was born to focus on being the best dad he could could be. As his prep career grew and his college recruitment increased, the younger Johnson vowed that all of his firsts would be for his father: his first college game, his first press conference, his first game winner. This season he specifically asked to be named “Jr.” to be recognized. from the arena announcers in the game.

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When that last basket settled in the rim, both Meechie Johnson’s felt it. Johnson Jr. said it was his first game win since his sophomore year at Garfield Heights, Ohiowhich was also his last completely healthy season. He missed his entire junior high school season after tearing the cruciate ligament in his right knee, and instead of playing an entire high school basketball season, he graduated early, joining the Buckeyes in mid-December and played first for about 100 minutes. Year reserve player.

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This year it is hoped he will play an important role for the Buckeyes and the coaching staff let him play through mistakes. He’s shown enough that after Seton Hall tied the game on Johnson’s turnover in the last 20 seconds, Ohio state coach Chris Holtmann decided not to take time out and trusted his players on the pitch to do that to make correct game.

There were a couple of guys who got the green light at that moment. Johnson Jr. was one of them.

“He’s brave,” said Holtmann. “He’s not afraid of the moment. You always look for it late (from) guys. “

Johnson Jr. failed to score a field goal in their season opener win against Akron. He would later call his performance shy and promise to play with more confidence, and he made up for that with 14 points in last Thursday’s loss to Xavier. On Monday evening he finished with 8 points, including the 3 that were most important. On the show, legendary broadcaster Bill Raftery shouted: “Big onions!” when the cameras point at Johnson, who is being bullied by his teammates.

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“I think his attitude and approach was what you see in good players who get better,” said Holtmann. “As long as I do that, players have… They just come to work and they get better, they have the right attitude, they’ll usually improve as the season progresses. I am proud of him now. Up to this point he was really good with it. “

Monday night he wasn’t the only one proud of Johnson Jr.

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Coverage of the Ohio State v Florida game on Wednesday

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