UCLA made a fairy tale run to the Final Four in 2021, and versatile sophomore shooting guard Johnny Juzang was a major reason why.
Now, Juzang is going to dip his toes in the waters of the NBA Draft, he announced on social media.
“I’m proud to announce that I’m declaring for the NBA draft, while retaining my collegiate eligibility,” Juzang said on Twitter. “It’s an honor to wear the blue and gold. My family and friends, those who have always been in my corner, you mean the world to me.”
Juzang, who is 6-foot-6, just played his first season with the Bruins after transferring from Kentucky. At times, he looked like the best player in the NCAA Tournament — joining Lew Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Reggie Miller as one of three Bruins ever to score 20 points in each of the first two tourney games.
That said, NBA scouts would prefer to see more of Juzang — and see what he can do for an entire season. Teams have missed on draft picks who had four or five killer tournament games on their resume but little else. Arizona’s Derrick Williams, who went second behind Kyrie Irving in the 2011 draft, is one such miss that comes to mind.
So that is likely why Juzang is maintaining his college eligibility. By entering the draft and working out in front of NBA types, he can get feedback on what still needs work to get to the next level. If the answer is “not a whole lot,” and Juzang gets a “promise” that he’ll be selected, he likely won’t return to the Bruins.
But even he seems to know that is an unlikely scenario. More than likely, Juzang will return to UCLA, try to do what he did in the tournament for an entire season, and improve his stock for 2022.
Juzang averaged 16 points on 44% shooting in the regular season, but he increased that to 22.8 points in the tournament, scoring 29 in the Bruins’ thriller of a Final Four loss to Gonzaga.