Johnson could be the intended recipient of the extra scholarship available after Austin Grandstaff's departure. It's unlikely Ohio State adds another to the 2016 class, which means the scholarship will roll over to 2017. Kaleb Wesson essentially takes Marc Loving's spot on the roster and – provided no additional roster turnover – that leaves one open spot.
We've already detailed who OSU is looking at in 2017 and not much has changed in that respect. The following year is when current sophomores will graduate, so there will be many options in addition to the currently committed Dane Goodwin.
Space is tight in 2017. Per NCAA rules, Thad Matta was not able to elaborate on his plans for the lone, open scholarship.
"All I can say is we are actively recruiting," he said during a press conference, Wednesday. "We could use it if the right young man becomes available."
At this point, Ohio State is definitely aware if Johnson is a proper fit or not. The Buckeyes have been interested in the East Tech junior since April 2014:
2017 PG Markell Johnson receiving interest from Ohio State. Not surprised. Pretty sure they're determined to not let that kid leave Ohio.— Henny Hardaway (@3rdCoast_Newt) April 23, 2014
Johnson visited Columbus in September and, in December, Matta joined two assistants when East Tech visited Dublin Jerome:
Thad Matta joined by assistant coaches Jeff Boals and Dave Dickerson. Ohio State throwing the full court press at Markell Johnson— 270 Hoops (@270Hoops) December 24, 2015
What the staff sees when scouting Johnson is an explosive athlete who may be the best in the state at creating for himself off the dribble. He scored over 40 points in multiple games this season and is averaging 30.5 per game, according to MaxPreps.com. Cleveland's Senate League is top heavy but East Tech also played Idea (Washington D.C.), Walsh Jesuit and Columbus Northland – a game in which Johnson scored 41 points – out of conference. By the end of the season, Johnson will be a candidate for Ohio's Mr. Basketball and could be the favorite heading into his senior season.
Johnson is expected to wait until after the season to make a decision. He has no shortage of high-major programs to choose from – Arizona State, Cincinnati, Florida, Louisville and N.C. State are among his offers in addition to OSU.
Perhaps other schools are unsure of his academic standing, as was potentially the case with Ohio State.
"To get the offer, I was surprised because I’ve been there multiple times and they hadn’t offered,” Johnson told The Columbus Dispatch's Adam Jardy. "I think it was academic reasons, but I’ve got everything together. It feels great, knowing that a big-time Division I college offered me and I’m from Ohio."