Cleveland (OH) East Tech point guard Markell Johnson finalized his college choice on Monday when he signed to attend NC State. The Wolfpack confirmed the news late Monday night after Johnson posted his decision on Twitter.
Johnson held offers from programs like NC State, Ohio State, Xavier, Washington, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Texas A&M among others, and he recently took trips to NC State and Texas A&M.
The Wolfpack visit certainly opened his eyes, as he had a chance to tour the facilities and hang out with several players.
"The visit was great," said Johnson. "I had a great time on my visit. I got to spend time with the players and the coaching staff... see the campus; the [basketball] facility.
"My host was Terry [Henderson] from West Virginia. He's a cool dude... I like him a lot. He was telling me about how it is there."
Right after the NC State trip he headed to Texas A&M, a late addition to his list. The Aggies joined the mix after hiring away assistant coach Isaac Chew from the Hokies. Chew had developed a strong relationship with Johnson and his family.
"I narrowed it down after the Texas A&M visit," Johnson said. "I know coach Chew well, the new coach that was at Virginia Tech. It was a tough decision because of him."
Ultimately, what was the biggest factor for Johnson?
"I liked the coaching staff," he said. "I liked them a lot, and the players were good; they are good. It felt great... it felt right."
In Johnson, NC State has landed the top available guard in the 2016 class. He averaged 31.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 3.5 steals for East Tech last season, as he led the Scarabs to three straight Senate League championships.
At 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, Johnson is a dynamic athlete who can impact the game in a variety of ways. This spring he played with King James Shooting Stars in the Nike EYBL, and he was one of the circuit's most productive players. Johnson averaged 18.2 points and 5.9 rebounds, and he ranked sixth in assists (4.9 apg) and third in steals (2.2 spg). He shot 49.4% from the field and 34.8% from 3-point range.
He is versatile enough to play point guard or play off-the-ball, and he has the athleticism to defend multiple positions as well.
Who does Johnson pattern his game after?
"I pattern my game after Russell Westbrook," he stated. "He's a complete player. He can score, rebound, and pass the ball. He can get a bucket when you need it."
Johnson has been going back-and-forth on being a member of the 2016 class or attending prep school and remaining in the 2017 class, and adding him this year is huge for NC State. He provides quality depth in the backcourt and can use this season to get stronger and improve his game before taking a much larger role in 2017.
NC State head coach Mark Gottfried seems pleased to have Johnson in the fold.
"He's an explosive combo guard who is extremely athletic and can play multiple positions for us," Gottfried stated in a release. "He's a great addition to our backcourt and we look forward to Markell joining our program."
The four-star guard joins a Wolfpack recruiting class that also includes five-star prospects Dennis Smith and Omer Yurtseven and three-star forward Darius Hicks. The class was ranked No. 6 overall by Scout.com prior to Johnson's decision and could crack the top five nationally.