NCAA Breakout Tournament star Johnny Juzang withdraws from NBA Draft in favor of return to UCLA Bruins

UCLA goalie Johnny Juzang, star of the 2021 NCAA tournament, announced Wednesday night that he is retiring from the NBA Draft and returning to the Bruins.

“Going through the writing process was an amazing experience. I had the chance to connect with great people, learn and grow, and get a feel for life to the next level. thank everyone who helped me in this process including my family, coaches, school and especially my dad who helped me countless hours! ” Juzang posted on twitter. “Westwood I can’t wait to go to war! We have a squad full of warriors and there is no one I would rather fight next to. With Coach Cronin and our staff I am very excited for this season. Let’s do something special! “

Juzang helped lead UCLA in a Cinderella run in the NCAA tournament in March, winning five games to go from first to four in the final. He had 23 points in the first win over Michigan State, followed by 27 points against BYU. He was at his best in the last two games, a win over Michigan and a loss to Gonzaga. Juzang scored 28 points in the win over the Wolverines, and his 29 points nearly led to UCLA toppling the top-ranked Bulldogs in the Final Four.

In the Bruins’ six NCAA tournament games, Juzang averaged 22.8 points and shot 50.9% from the field. His 137 points were the second-highest NCAA tournament total in UCLA history.

During the season, the 6-foot-6 goaltender averaged 16.0 points and 4.1 rebounds.

Despite the playoffs, Juzang was only screened as a late pick in the second round of the NBA Draft. He was ranked No.53 in ESPN’s latest draft rankings.

Juzang, a former ESPN 100 prospect, started his career in Kentucky. He averaged 2.9 points in 28 freshman games at Lexington.

“We are very happy that Johnny is returning to UCLA. Johnny was an important addition to our team last year,” said Mick Cronin, UCLA coach. said in a press release. “He’s a great player and a great teammate. Obviously we had a special race in March and Johnny, playing on a sprained ankle, was wonderful with his teammates. We’re all excited to get back to work and to capitalize on our success. “

Juzang’s return likely consolidates UCLA as a top-five preseason team for the 2021-22 campaign. Cronin sacked all of the Bruins’ NCAA tournament players, while also adding five-star prospect Peyton Watson, ESPN 100 goalie Will McClendon and Rutgers transfer graduate Myles Johnson. Chris Smith, who missed the second half of the season, opted to leave for the NBA Draft, while Cody Riley on Wednesday announced his intention to return to UCLA.