Full Court Press: Sonny Johnson Could Be Building an Ohio State Pipeline at Garfield Heights

By James Grega on June 8, 2018 at 1:05 pm
Sonny Johnson

Welcome to Full Court Press, our basketball version of The Hurry Up. Full Court Press will appear weekly during the basketball offseason, with hoops recruiting in full swing.

Alonzo Gaffney's April 10th commitment to Ohio State gave Chris Holtmann his first big recruit since arriving in Columbus. The top recruit in the state for the 2019 class, Gaffney is the kind of player that can start immediately for the Buckeyes when he arrives on campus, and a talent that Holtmann can build his program around. 

His talent is not lost on anyone, especially his high school head coach Sonny Johnson, who told Eleven Warriors that not only is Gaffney physically gifted, but also has the desire to further elevate his game. 

"A lot of it has to do with his character, being a great kid and wanting to learn and get better," Johnson said. "When you have a kid with that type of talent that wants to do what it takes to be elite, as far as the way he listens and asks questions, that always helps."

While Gaffney is the unquestioned leader and star of the Garfield Heights program, the Bulldogs are not without a plethora of talent around him. 

The son of the late Brent Darby, Brent Darby Jr., plays alongside Gaffney as well as Johnson's nephew Meechie, who was offered by Ohio State as a high school freshman on Nov. 29. Meechie, a member of the 2021 class, scored 50 points in a game last season and is widely regarded as one of the top players in the state in his class already. 

This depth of talent could serve as a pipeline of sorts for Ohio State basketball, which has made a positive impression on Johnson and his players with the way they have attacked recruiting. 

"The way they are recruiting kids early. They are recruiting them early and letting them know how much it means to be a Buckeye," Johnson said. "The way they create a family atmosphere, their honesty. You get a coach that is really up-front with you, showing they have a family base, a lot of kids want to be a part of that."

College basketball pipelines are not nearly as prevalent as in college football, but Garfield Heights could very well become what Glenville was to Ohio State in the 2000's with the likes of Ted Ginn, Troy Smith, Donte Whitner and others. 

Not only is Gaffney already committed and Meechie offered, but there is more talent coming down the road at Garfield Heights. Johnson's son, Sonny Johnson Jr., just finished his eighth grade year and already has Div. I offers. He received an offer from Youngstown State in September, before playing a game as a high schooler. While Darby is not being heavily recruited, he is a talented player in the 2020 class with Div. I potential. 

Johnson said he would love to see a pipeline develop from Garfield Heights to Ohio State, especially because it means keeping kids in their home state.

"We have talent at our school so you never know what is going to happen," Johnson said. "We would love to be that pipeline to Ohio State, because there is nothing like a kid from Ohio staying at the Ohio State University."

Johnson added that he is major advocate of players playing in their home state, especially for the Buckeyes. He acknowledged that Ohio State is, and always will be, a football school but that the basketball program has the ability to be elite as well with the right mix of talent.

"I am a huge Ohio State football fan, I love it to death. There is nothing like when you have the basketball team and the football team rolling at the same time," Johnson said. "Football is king, everybody knows that. But if you can keep Ohio kids in the state of Ohio, I think the basketball program can be pretty successful also."

OSU Target Makes USA U-18 Cut

The 2018 USA Men's U-18 national team made its final cuts on Tuesday, and while Musa Jallow didn't make the team, one of Ohio State's top targets in the 2019 class did. 

Trayce Jackson-Davis was one of the 12 members selected to participate in the 2018 FIBA Americas U18 Championship, set to take place June 10-16. Jackson-Davis is a five-star center out of Indiana, and the No. 20 overall player in the country according to 247sports

Jackson-Davis will try to help the USA team win its fifth-straight gold medal, with preliminary play starting June 10 against the Dominican Republic. He recently spoke with Eleven Warriors about his recruitment in the May 18 edition of Full Court Press. 

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