The unbreakable bond


The inseparable bond of Cece Hooks and Erica Johnson

Anthony Posial / For The Post

Cece Hooks and Erica Johnson locked eyes and laughed as they jogged down the court during Ohio’s game against Ball State on Feb. 2.

The two just avoided a collision on the defensive end when they dove for a ball rolling out of bounds. Johnson swatted it back into play but had to dodge a diving Hooks. As everyone sprinted down the court, they smiled and jogged at their not-so-pretty attempt to simply save a ball from going out of play.

The chemistry of the duo was evident, but the bond they share extends far beyond the confines of The Convo. Johnson, a redshirt freshman, and Hooks, a sophomore, knew each other four years before their paths crossed in Athens. In their first full year together on the court, they’ve become Ohio’s two biggest offensive threats.

“She gets hers, I get mine,” Johnson said. “We both motivate each other. She's my biggest supporter out there, and I'm her biggest supporter out there.”

Hooks and Johnson have molded Ohio into one of the most potent offenses in the Mid-American Conference. They’re the leading scorers on the Bobcats’ No. 13-ranked offense in the country, but the two share much more than an ability to run up the scoreboard.

They’ve known each other since eighth grade in 2013, when they played on the same Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) All-Ohio basketball team. The two met on the first day of practice and became instant friends on a team loaded with future college talent. They won a tournament filled with older players, and it caught the eye of coach Bob Boldon.


Kelsey Boeing | FOR THE POST

Ohio University women's basketball players, CeCe Hooks (left) and Erica Johnson (left) pose for a portrait together after practice on Monday, February 11, 2019.

He wanted to recruit every player from that team. Hooks and Johnson went separate ways when they began their high school careers, but they still kept in touch. They were curious to see where their college lives would start.

Both were interested in Ohio and received calls from bigger schools. Hooks heard from Ohio State and Xavier, and Johnson heard from Virginia Tech and Buffalo.

The appeal of playing together as Bobcats was too good to pass up. Hooks called Johnson, who had already committed to Ohio, while she was in school in 2015 to tell her that the reunion they had discussed for the past three years was official.

“We actually kind of planned that,” Hooks said with a laugh. “We just decided to do that, and it was a quick decision. We just wanted to play with each other again.”

Hooks and Johnson became inseparable when they reunited in Athens. They didn’t become roommates until this year, but Hooks frequently stayed in Johnson’s dorm room last year.

“I'm messy, but she ain't spick and span either,” Johnson said as she looked down and laughed. “If you go in our room right now, you know which side is mine and which side is hers."

When the two arrive in The Convo, they clean things up. Their two unique playing styles haven’t changed since their days on the AAU team and provide a formula that opponents seldom find a way to contain.

Hooks has mastered the drive and can find lanes for layups whenever she pleases. If the opponent tries to apply extra pressure to close her lanes, however, she can pass the ball to Johnson for a deeper field goal.

“(Johnson) can do everything,” Hooks said. “She's technically a guard, but she can guard opponents, catch the ball. She can do a lot."

Johnson, who redshirted last season at Ohio because of a left knee issue, likely wouldn’t have found as much success in her first full season without Hooks by her side.

Her familiarity with Hooks’ aggressive style makes it easy for Johnson to predict what move is coming next. All she has to do is read Hooks’ eyes, and that tells her if she should rush to the rim for a rebound opportunity or move around to set up a pass.

“Their chemistry when they're at the top of the key, them handing off, it's just different than everyone else,” Amani Burke said. “There's going to be things they do that they don't necessarily have to say.”

Hooks and Johnson will likely soon become the top duo in the MAC, if they haven’t already. They have two more years to build on what could be a season of accolades for Ohio, and its’ future is as bright as any team in the conference with them at the core of the offense,

That’s just how Hooks and Johnson want it.

“You see Cece, you see me,” Johnson said. “We're always together. That's just one of my best friends.”


Development by: Megan Knapp / Digital Production Editor

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