After a 27-point performance in a Division I regional final vs. Uniontown Lake, one that included a buzzer-beating jump shot, Markell Johnson cemented himself as a big time prospect. Distancing himself from the rest of the guards in Ohio's class of 2017, Johnson's mix of athleticism, skill, demeanor, and play-making ability make him a cant-miss prospect for colleges all across the country.
A major part of a Cleveland East Tech team that advanced to its first state semifinal in more than 40 years, Johnson is ready to take reign of the Scarab program. Getting a chance to sit down with Johnson on Wednesday, the 6' foot guard let me in on the type of player he sees himself as, the schools showing interest, and what major program Johnson has at the top of his wish list.
Interviewing Markell Johnson
Question: What was it like helping lead East Tech to the state final four as a freshman?
Johnson: It was a great experience knowing what I was capable of and what my teammates were capable of doing.
Question: You've sort of blown up on the statewide scene this past year, who or what do you credit for your success so far?
Johnson: I credit my parents and Coach Brett [Moore] for helping me stay on the right path.
Question: If someone knew nothing about you or your play style, how would you describe yourself and the type of player that you are?
Johnson: I am a humble young man that does nothing but play basketball. I'm also a pass-first point guard but when my team needs points, I do the best that I can.
Question: What schools are showing interest so far, and has any college offered you yet?
Johnson: Receiving interest from East Tennessee [State], Notre Dame, Kent State, West Virginia, Stanford, Ohio State, Michigan State, Cleveland State and Dayton, but I have no offers yet.
Question: That's an impressive list. Is there a college or pro player that you would compare yourself to?
Johnson: For college, definitely Marcus Smart.
Question: Being a Cleveland kid, who do you think the Cavs should select with the first overall pick in this year's NBA Draft?
Johnson: Andrew Wiggins for sure.
Question: I like the way you think. Is there a school in particular that is at the top of your wish list?
Johnson: Just like my man Carlton Bragg, [it's] Kentucky.
Question: UK fans will definitely be excited to hear that. What are your biggest strengths as a player?
Johnson: Handling the ball, and being a point guard that can jump out of the gym.
Question: Sounds like a typical John Calipari point guard, doesn't it?
Johnson: Yes sir, that's a big reason why it's [Kentucky] at the top of my list.
With KT Taylor and Johnell Free graduating, are you ready to take on a bigger leadership role with East Tech as a sophomore?
Johnson: Yes sir, and I cannot wait.
Men Lie, Women Lie, Footage Doesn't
As the first to discover the freshman phenom, check out Johnson's 2013-14 season highlights brought to you by the good folks over at 3rdCoastHoops.
Check out Johnson's monster off-the-backboard slam from the King James Icebreaker.
Johnson's inital breakout came at the All-Ohio Nike City Series in the fall of 2013. Check out this highlight from Courtside Films.
The Scouting Report
Regarded by virtually all of Ohio's top basketball scouts and evaluators as the state's top guard in the 2017 class, Johnson has every intangible to be a star at the lead guard position. With an impressive feel for the game, almost effortless play-making ability, and great vision, Johnson can affect the game in a variety of ways.
When East Tech needed Johnson to score, the freshman delivered. When East Tech needed Johnson to get his teammates involved, the 6' foot guard facilitated like the pass-first guard he says he is. But it was Johnson's scoring late in the season that made a major difference in leading the Scarabs to its first state semifinal appearance since 1972.
Johnson has incredible quickness, and can get anywhere he wants off the dribble. Showing to also be a high-pressure defender, Johnson causes opposing ball-handlers fits with his quick hands and anticipation. In a star-studded performance against CIA Bounce at the King James Shooting Stars Classic, Johnson did a little bit of everything, while wrecking havoc in transition to lead King James to a big victory.
Already receiving interest from a variety of high-major programs, look for Johnson's offer list to begin to develop at the end of the summer. Leading a talented King James 15u squad, Johnson will have each and every chance during the evaluation period to leave a lasting impression on coaches all over.