Markell Johnson looks to make one of his patented drives to the basket to score. Johnson is the 57th ranked recruit in the class of 2017 by ESPN.com. Feature photo courtesy of Markell Johnson.
Update (9/22/2015): Markell Johson received an offer from Virginia Tech on Sept. 21.
Update (9/18/2015): Markell Johnson received an offer from Florida on Sept. 17.
Things are looking up regarding all things basketball in the Cleveland area, and Markell Johnson is no exception to that. The junior point guard from East Technical High School currently has eight Division 1 offers and, with his 4-star skill set, could easily acquire more in the next two seasons.
Johnson, the 6-foot-1-inch floor general, has offers from Arizona State, VCU, DePaul, Buffalo, Kent State, Bowling Green, Cleveland State and Ohio. However, he may have never gotten his game to a Division 1 level without the help of his mentors, Mike Blackwell and Mike Melton, who shaped Johnson’s game.
“Living in the townhouses where I grew up, my next door neighbor Mike Blackwell taught me a lot about the game. He didn’t just tell me, he showed me and he helped me,” said Johnson.
Playing maybe an even larger role in helping Johnson was Mike Melton, who was a great player himself. After initially committing to Akron to play basketball, Melton attended Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, where he helped his team win the 2004 Junior College Division II National Championship.
“I met a dude named Mike Melton. He was a former Cleveland Central Catholic player,” Johnson said. “He told me to come work on my game with him and that is how I got this far, just listening to him.”
At the college level, Johnson will have to use those skills he learned from Blackwell and Melton in order to be successful. Johnson said he thinks the best things he could bring to a college team are his scoring and his ball distribution.
“I feel like the best part of my game is the way I can get my teammates involved; the way I can run a team and also the way I play defense,” said Johnson.
Like all players, Johnson has things he feels he needs to work to be successful at the next level, especially since he says he wants to make a big impact in his freshman season.
“I need to work on shooting the ball off of screens,” Johnson said. “I like to attack off screens but I know that could stop, so working on my conditioning and working on coming off screens and shooting will help.”
Johnson still has two years left in his high school basketball career, and still has time to work on his weaknesses with his mentors, but his largest goal is that of seemingly all high school athletes.
“The goal is to win back-to-back championships,” Johnson explained. “My team is capable of doing it. I’ve been recruiting people to come to my school. I know that that this year, since we are in Division 2, we have a good chance, especially with the other good players on this team.”
Johnson knows his team can succeed because of their great team chemistry, which he contributes to. He also knows it can really help a collegiate program if a player is a good teammate.
“I can get along with guys very well,” Johnson said. “Everybody says I’m a comedian off the court.”
When asked if he compares himself to any specific NBA player, Johnson made a comparison that could definitely intrigue college coaches.
“I model my game after Russell Westbrook just for the simple fact that he comes off screens and attacks,” he explained. “I’m just trying to pattern my game after him and get more explosive.”
Wherever Johnson ends up playing his college ball, he is sure to make a big impact and help his teammates as well.
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