Full Court Press: Donovan Johnson Reacts To Ohio State Offer, Keon Johnson And Dudley Blackwell Pick Up Offers

By Colin Hass-Hill on May 3, 2019 at 1:16 pm
Donovan Johnson

Soon after four-star Donovan Johnson wrapped up his final game of the Adidas Gold Gauntlet in Dallas on Sunday, he got on the phone with Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann.

Either Holtmann or one of the Buckeyes' assistants attended every game Johnson's Wildcats Select team played last weekend, watching Johnson and his teammates Zach Loveday and Jalen Bridges. Holtmann watched him in person on Saturday, and he saw enough to extend a scholarship offer two days later.

“Coach reached out to me, he called me and was just telling me that I had a great weekend and how he loved watching me,” Johnson told Eleven Warriors. “He offered me, and I was thrilled, honestly.”

Johnson, a 6-foot-7, 185-pound wing, is the No. 103 overall prospect and the 20th-ranked small forward in the class of 2020. He holds offers from Arizona, Pittsburgh, Penn State and Xavier, among others. TCU, Miami, Notre Dame and Wofford also offered soon after this weekend wrapped up.

Ohio State has shown interest in him since the beginning of his junior year, attending his first game of the season at Moon Area High School in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania.

The coaching staff invited him to a game, and he took an unofficial visit on Feb. 14 to watch the Buckeyes take on Illinois. Johnson couldn't spend much time in Columbus since it was a mid-week, all-in-one-day visit, but he went home with positive takeaways.

“Ohio State's a great campus,” Johnson said. “It's wonderful people, a wonderful coaching staff. The fan support's there. The arena, their facility, it's all there. It's a great area. It's close to home.”

Gil Johnson, Donovan's father, said his son plans to visit Ohio State again at some point soon.

Johnson, who goes by the nickname “Puff,” described himself as a scorer, someone “you can just put in really in any offense and just score the ball,” and he showed off that bucket-getting ability by dropping 25 points in front of Holtmann against New York's Riverside Church team on Saturday.

The Buckeyes will need a wing to replace Andre Wesson, who will graduate after the 2019-20 season, and Johnson could offer them a versatile scoring option.

“They said I'd be a wing and they were just trying to develop my game and just make me into an all-around player and someone that they can plug in at any position,” Johnson said.

Johnson has only just started to blow up in the recruiting world, but he's familiar with the process.

Two years ago, he got an up-close look as his brother, Cameron, transferred from Pittsburgh and soon had blue-blood programs chasing him. Ohio State was in the mix for a bit, but he eventually chose North Carolina, where he developed into a likely first-round NBA draft pick.

“I just wanted to sit in and kind of just try to let the coaches know that where Cam is now, that's where I want to be in a couple years and have them get the sense that I'm willing to listen, pay attention and do what's needed to be in a program,” Johnson said.

During the process of selecting a school, Johnson was in the room for every meeting his brother had with college coaches, even though he had only just completed his freshman year of high school.

“It was awesome just seeing all the different colleges and what they had to say,” Johnson said. “He gives me advice about how you have to just work hard and just try to find a coach that can further your development and your game on and off the court, and find teammates that you can be around and just good guys. And that's what I look for in a program.”

Keon Johnson picks up offer

An offer from Ohio State was bound to come to Keon Johnson at some point, and it happened Wednesday when Holtmann and assistant coach Jake Diebler visited him at The Webb School in Bell Buckle, Tennessee.

Johnson, the No. 30 overall prospect in 2020 and the top-rated recruit in Tennessee, has a tight relationship with Diebler, who spent time recruiting him when he was an assistant coach for Vanderbilt. Before Holtmann hired Diebler, Johnson told Rivals that if Vanderbilt kept Diebler, the firing of Bryce Drew wouldn't affect his level of interest.

Instead, Diebler moved to Ohio State and will now attempt to lure him to Columbus. Tennessee will be major competition for the Buckeyes. Virginia, Florida and Mississippi have also offered Johnson and are pursuing him.

Johnson, 6-foot-5, 180 pounds, would fill Ohio State's need for a wing in the 2020 class.

Dudley Blackwell offered

Four-star wing Dudley Blackwell (6-foot-5, 185 pounds) picked up an Ohio State offer on Monday after the coaching staff got a chance to see him in person playing for Nightrydas Elite in the Nike EYBL over the weekend.

Blackwell, the No. 87 prospect in 2020 and the 18th-ranked small forward, transferred to Huntington Prep in West Virginia in January. He now plays alongside Loveday.

Similarly to Johnson, Blackwell earned a flurry of offers after his strong play in front of college coaches last weekend. He already held offers from Iowa State and Florida Gulf Coast, and he added offers from Ohio State, Marquette, Providence, Saint Louis and Oklahoma State this week.

Coaches On The Road

Ohio State's coaching staff continued to put in work on the road this week after getting a chance to watch some of its top targets in person last weekend.

On Tuesday, Ohio State visited Dain Dainja, a four-star center from Minneapolis, per Ryan James of Prep Hoops. He's the No. 49 overall prospect and the seventh-rate center in 2020. He doesn't have an offer from the Buckeyes yet. A sizable amount of schools are after him, and Louisville, Texas and Nebraska offered him this week.

Prior Lake, Minnesota, big man Dawson Garcia also received a visit from Ohio State this week, James reported. A four-star center and the No. 28 overall prospect in 2020, Garcia is one of the team's top big man targets. He holds an offer from Ohio State. Pittsburgh, Indiana and Oregon extended offers to him this week.

Caleb Furst, a 2021 four-star power forward from Fort Wayne, Indiana, was also visited by Ohio State this week, Outside the Huddle reported. Furst, who spoke to Eleven Warriors about the Buckeyes last week, is one of four players in his class to hold an offer from Ohio State. 

Chris Holtmann stopped by DeMatha Catholic in Maryland to meet with four-star wing Earl Timberlake on Tuesday, Stockrisers' Jake Weingarten reported. Timberlake, the No. 37 overall prospect and ninth-ranked shooting guard, has an offer from Ohio State. Louisville, Alabama and Boston College offered him this week.

Paul McMillan IV, a 2022 point guard, is set to receive a visit from Ohio State, Corey Albertson reported. McMillan, a Cincinnati native, is primed to be a target for the Buckeyes in the next couple years.

Ohio State met with four-star wing Ethan Morton last week, he told Rivals. Morton said Ohio State, along with Purdue, Michigan and Indiana, is one of the four schools at the "forefront" of his recruitment. He's the No. 41 overall prospect and the 11th-ranked small forward in 2020. The Pennsylvanian holds an Ohio State offer.

Ballislife All-American Game

Ohio State signees E.J. Liddell and DJ Carton spent last weekend in Pennsylvania at the Iverson Classic, and they're heading across the country to play together again this weekend.

Liddell and Carton will partake in the Ballislife All-American Game in Long Beach, California, on Saturday, and they're set to face each other on opposing teams.

The game, which features a star-studded roster of prospects, is scheduled to tip off at 7:15 p.m. It will be live streamed on Facebook.

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