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Garfield Heights grad Meechie Johnson Jr. keeping NIL change in perspective as he pursues NBA dreams

Meechie Johnson
Posted at 11:37 AM, Jul 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-03 11:38:12-04

GARFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio — For as long as Meechie Johnson Jr. can remember he's wanted to play in the NBA. After graduating from Garfield Heights High School early last year, Johnson is playing basketball at The Ohio State University—putting him one step closer to his dreams.

But there are new things to consider now with the NCAA recently lifting its amateurism rules.

"For us to be the first fresh class to experience it, that's amazing," Johnson said.

On Wednesday, the NCAA announced its decision to suspend its name, image and likeness rules for all incoming and current student-athletes in every sport—allowing them to finally monetize themselves after years of push to make such changes.

"People just want to take care of their families and have a little money in their pocket," Johnson said.

With the rules now allowing student athletes to profit by monetizing their social media accounts, signing autographs, teaching camps or lessons, starting their own businesses, and signing on to advertising campaigns, among other things, Johnson is already seeing the potential roll in.

At 114,000 followers on Instagram and growing, Johnson already has fielded inquiries from companies looking to work with him. His impressive basketball skills have not only made him a top recruit out of high school but now make him a promising recruit for monetization.

"It's only going to get crazier. The fact that it's only day one or two and people are reaching out and trying to do this and do that," Johnson said.

While the reward could be great, Johnson isn't jumping head first into these deals and he and his family are being very thoughtful about how his name, image and likeness may be used.

"The schools are going to have to spend a lot of time, maybe more than they think, teaching these kids how to handle money," Johnson's father Demetrius. "Like I told [Johnson], 'I don't want you to go and lose focus and think I can make money, money, money.' The main goal is still the main goal. To stay focused, keep getting better."

Johnson is taking his father's advice and keeping things in perspective as a future with endless possibilities and so much promise awaits him—and he hopes his fellow student athletes do the same.

"I hope a lot of players don't get it mixed up. They're thinking 'I got to get the money now'—no," Johnson said. "I'm excited about making money, who wouldn't be? But at the end of the day, basketball is what I love and if I didn't get paid I would still have the same attitude towards the game."

Under the NCAA rules the following guidance is provided to athletes, recruits, their families and member schools:

  • Individuals can engage in NIL activities that are consistent with the law of the state where the school is located. Colleges and universities may be a resource for state law questions.
  • College athletes who attend a school in a state without an NIL law can engage in this type of activity without violating NCAA rules related to name, image and likeness.
  • Individuals can use a professional services provider for NIL activities.
  • Student-athletes should report NIL activities consistent with state law or school and conference requirements to their school.

RELATED: How NCAA athletes may capitalize on new name, image and likeness rules

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