OGDENSBURG — The Ogdensburg Free Academy boys basketball team dominated Section 10 this season and senior point guard MeSean Johnson paced that balanced squad.
Johnson played an unselfish game for the 20-5 Blue Devils, averaging 16.3 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. His overall play has made him the choice for Northern Athletic Conference Most Valuable Player on the Times All-North team.
“He was a pass-first kind of guy,” OFA coach Mark Henry said. “He made everybody better. He was such a good penetrator. He always got paint touches and made kids open (for passes). It kept everyone more into the game. If you are open, he’s going to find you. There were times at practice where he made passes and the coaches would make eye contact and just think, ‘Wow!’”
Johnson has competed for OFA, playing key roles, since he was 15.
“When he started for us as a sophomore we were begging him to shoot when he was open,” Henry said. “This was the year he looked to score a little more, but if he could get an assist before scoring, he was going to do it. He’s a team-first kid. He’s very smart and is another coach on the floor. He studies the game. He is the type of kid who sees a play on TV and sends it to me and says, ‘What do you think of this?’ He’s always been like that. He knows the plays.”
Johnson’s unselfish play is an example of not just his own personality, but the personality that many in the senior class at OFA, in boys and girls sports, have exemplified this year.
“I feel there are a lot of (friend) groups that don’t really stick together that long,” Johnson said. “We have an entire group of boys and girls and we have been friends our entire lives. It’s a continuous friendship for everyone in our group, even outside of athletes. We have a bunch of great people and we don’t look at ourselves as higher than anyone else.”
Johnson has been a playmaker no matter what team sport he’s playing. In football season he returned punts and kickoffs for OFA. Often, while carrying the ball in football, he would appear stalled, but then he’d see the hole and turn on the speed and often wound up in the end zone. He displays the same attribute on a basketball court.
“Sometimes I think I’m going to end up slowing (a play) down, and then I end up getting to the rim,” Johnson said. “My whole life I’ve been a pretty good passer. I always have seen the court well. I never think about it too much. It’s not something I had to work on. I have worked extremely hard on my jump shot. When I was young I couldn’t shoot the ball that well. I always got to the rim. I had to try and put that into my game. I’m still working on that part, finding the open man and making the right play.”
The next step in Johnson’s basketball career is joining head coach Jim Bechtel’s program at SUNY Potsdam.
The Bears finished 20-7 this season with a 14-4 record in the SUNYAC and advanced to the championship game of the SUNYAC Tournament.
“I’m a really big family guy,” Johnson said. “Not going too far away, and being able to see my family a decent amount of time, is good for me. I had a good vibe with the (SUNY Potsdam) team. I’ve known (Bechtel) for a little while. I used to go to the St. Lawrence (University) basketball camp and I met him there a long time ago. Knowing him was good for me. I like the way he included my mom, too. He asked questions just to her. It was not just about me, it was about both of us.”
Henry feels confident that Johnson can bring the Bears the same things talents he’s given OFA the past three years.
“He’s gotten mentally tougher over the years,” Henry said. “I think, defensively, he is more than ready to play at the college level. He guarded the other team’s best player, no matter what position he played. He can just dictate the pace of play on both ends. If we need to speed the game up, he’d do it defensively. His north to south acceleration is amazing. He sees things develop.”