UCLA men’s basketball star Johnny Juzang had impressive performances during the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. After a heartbreaking loss to Gonzaga, Juzang declared himself eligible for the 2021 NBA Draft.
Juzang had a change of heart and announced his return to UCLA over the summer.
“We’ve got a team full of warriors,” Juzang said. “I’m very excited for this season. Let’s do something special!”
There were high expectations that Juzang would enter the draft considering how well the guard/forward played in the tournament. UCLA men’s basketball head coach Mick Cronin said he expected Juzang to be picked in the first round. That didn’t happen.
“I was hoping for Johnny he’d be a first-round pick,” Cronin said. “He’s only 20 years old so there is no need to force the issue. So many of these kids go undrafted trying to make it the hard way.”
It’s easy to see why Cronin has a great appreciation of what Juzang brings to the table for the Bruins. Juzang averaged 16 points and four rebounds a game last season. Juzang is looking to expand and improve his game this season.
“I’m trying to get better all across the board, just to keep growing as a leader, more pose, control, and my body,” said Juzang.
In returning to school after experiencing early draft processes, Juzang is expected to learn from that experience and is ready to take his game to another level. With his return to the team, the expectations are high for him and the team.
“You just weigh your options, we have a talented group and it is going to be great for our development.” said Juzang.
Much like Juzang, UCLA caught many teams by surprise last year. Going on an impressive run led by Juzang. The Bruins’ impressive tournament run began with an appearance in the First Four with a tough overtime win against Michigan State.
Led by Juzang, the Bruins won four straight games to earn a spot in the Final Four. A two-point win against Michigan propelled UCLA into the finals against Gonzaga. After their performance in the NCAA tournament last season, the Bruins won’t be sneaking up on anyone this year.
Not only will Juzang return back to men’s basketball program, UCLA will also have a majority of their roster coming back. That’s not to mention the Bruins adding star high school recruits Peyton Watson (Long Beach Poly) and Will McClendon (Bishop Gorman High School).
“Expectations are great, but it is irrelevant in between the lines,” Cronin said. “If we taught anybody anything last year, it’s your seeding and ranking do not matter come tournament time.”
UCLA is currently ranked at second right behind Gonzaga in the Top 25 college basketball rankings. It is a very high ranking, but with the level of talent of the team, experience, and the star power of Juzang, UCLA will have everyone’s attention this coming season.
The Bruins make their season debut Nov. 9 against Cal State Bakersfield.
Featured Image Caption: INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MARCH 30: Johnny Juzang #3 of the UCLA Bruins drives in on Chaundee Brown #15 of the Michigan Wolverines in the Elite Eight round of the 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament held at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 30, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)