Kentucky freshman Johnny Juzang enters transfer portal

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky freshman Johnny Juzang, who gained a reputation this past season for being unafraid to compete, will take a new leap of faith. UK announced Friday that Juzang had entered his name in the NCAA transfer portal.

“When we spoke last night, his family talked about Johnny going back to the West Coast, which I understand,” UK coach John Calipari said in a news release. “If this is what he ultimately decides to do, we wish him all the best. He has our full support.”

Calipari also said that the option of returning to Kentucky for a sophomore season will remain open for Juzang, who calls Los Angeles home.

Corey Evans, a recruiting analyst for, said there will be keen interest in Juzang from “pretty much all of the Pac-12 Conference.”

Evans mentioned a connection to the Southern California Trojans. Evan Mobley, a highly regarded incoming freshman for USC, played for the same AAU program (Compton Magic) as Juzang. Mobley’s father, Eric, is an assistant coach for the Trojans.

“The Pac-12 is known for getting up and down the floor,” Evans said. “And I think that’s the kind of system that would do well with a guy like Johnny.”

Evans spoke of interest in Juzang in the West extending beyond the Pac-12.

“You have to figure Gonzaga and San Diego State along with Pac-12 schools will be heavily involved,” he said.

Juzang, who reclassified into the high school class of 2019, narrowed his college choices to Oregon, Kansas, Virginia and Kentucky. The recruitment came down to Virginia and UK, said Evans, who suggested there was a possibility of Virginia getting involved with Juzang again.

In the news release, Juzang said he enjoyed his one season with Kentucky.

“This last year at Kentucky was one of the best experiences of my life,” he said. “I grew so much not only as a player, but as a young man as well. I’d like to thank all my coaches, my brothers, the trainers, the staff, BBN and everyone who made this year so special. From the bottom of my heart I’m going to miss this place.”

Juzang appeared in 28 games with two starts in 2019-20. He scored 82 points, averaging 2.9 points.

More than once, Calipari lauded Juzang for not being afraid to take a shot and for being willing to compete physically.

Juzang came to Kentucky billed as a shooter. But he made only four of his first 23 3-point shots. But he made 10 of his final 20 shots from beyond the arc.

“I thought he was a little overrated as a shooter,” Evans said. “I thought he was a very strong, consistent shooter. I didn’t think he was a drop-dead shooter.”

Juzang finished his freshman season with a bang in the regular-season’s final game at Florida. He scored 10 points, which marked only his second double-digit point total of the season. He also had season highs in minutes (two seconds shy of 33), assists (two), and shots (six) while also equaling season highs in baskets (four) and 3-point attempts (four).

Evans said he attended UK’s game at Florida.

“He was really starting to come on, not hesitating, not worrying about making a mistake,” Evans said of Juzang. “But rather was starting to play off instinct. That’s what he was back in high school.”

The Recruiting Services Consensus Index ranked Juzang as the No. 34 prospect. He averaged 23 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists in his final season for Harvard-Westlake School.

Juzang was an All-California Interscholastic Federation First Team pick in his final season in high school. He led Harvard-Westlake to the CIF championship and the Mission League Championship for the first time since 2011.

Juzang became the 11th scholarship player to transfer from Kentucky in Calipari’s 11 seasons as coach. The others were Darnell Dodson, Quade Green, Ryan Harrow, Sacha Killeya-Jones, Marcus Lee, Charles Matthews, Stacey Poole Jr., Kahlil Whitney, Kyle Wiltjer and Tai Wynyard.

“Johnny had a great year and really got better as the season went on,” Calipari said in the news release. “I always enjoyed coaching him, and if there’s an opportunity to continue to do so, I would welcome it with open arms because Johnny is a great kid and a skilled basketball player with a bright future.”


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