Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NBA Draft 2021: UCLA’s Johnny Juzang on future: ‘There is no wrong decision’
By ZACH SMARTJohnny Juzang wasn’t thrilled with what he considered a subpar performance during Friday’s NBA Combine in Chicago.
Juzang, whose NCAA tournament emergence helped lead UCLA to the Final Four this season, did say he will decide his future plans after he’s done with NBA workouts. Juzang said he spoke with 15 NBA teams during his time at the NBA Combine. Players have until July 7 to withdraw from the draft.
“There’s no wrong decision, man,” Juzang said. “There is no wrong way to go. They’re going to be great with or without me…With the toughness, the fight, and the talent (of UCLA), they’re going to be fine.”
He’s currently projected as the No. 52 pick in the Draft to the Grizzlies, per ESPN.com.
After averaging 16 points during the regular season, the 6-foot-6, 210-pound Juzang averaged 23 during the NCAA tournament, including a 28-point (11-for-19 FG, 2-for-5 3FG) scoring spree en route to a pulsating 51-49 win over Michigan during the Elite Eight. Juzang scored 29 points during a 93-90 loss to Gonzaga in the Final Four, a game which ended on Jalen Suggs’ miraculous buzzer-beating 3-point.
While known for his scoring, Juzang said Bruins head coach Mick Cronin’s major emphasis on defense allowed him to rapidly grow into a complete player.
“I’m making strides on defense, really impacting the defensive end of the ball,” Juzang said via Zoom during Friday’s NBA Combine. “I do feel good in the the fact that I feel like I’m impacting the ball on defense.”
Juzang was met with a unique surprise during his time at the Combine. His older brother, former Harvard guard Christian Juzang, showed up on a surprise visit in a hilarious moment what was caught on camera.
There would be no surprise if Juzang decides to return to UCLA after testing the draft waters. The Bruins figure to be one of the top teams in the nation — along with Gonzaga, Villanova and others — without him. If he returns, they will be especially loaded.
If the chips fall into the right place for Juzang, he could be the first Asian- American first round pick in NBA history.
Juzang originally committed to Kentucky. He played sparingly for the Wildcats as a freshman, averaging just 2.9 points before revitalizing his career at UCLA. Juzang said he has no regrets about his decision or his time in Lexington.
“A great program and a great environment,” said Juzang of Kentucky. “I got extremely better. It definitely matured me a lot. It was huge.”
Photo: UCLA Basketball
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.