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Transfer Johnny Juzang receives waiver to play immediately for UCLA

Johnny Juzang warms up before a game on March 3, 2020, at Lexington, Ky.
(James Crisp / Associated Press)

Johnny Juzang won’t have to wait long for his homecoming. The Southern California native will be able to play for UCLA next season after the NCAA approved his waiver for immediate eligibility Wednesday, clearing the Kentucky transfer to join the Bruins’ backcourt.

Juzang’s waiver was based on a personal family situation that involved a need to be close to relatives.

“In Johnny’s case, it’s more about his family and coming back home, not just during a pandemic but personal things with his family,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said last month.

The addition of the 6-foot-6 guard known for his shooting will help offset the loss of highly touted point guard Daishen Nix, who opted for the new lucrative G League academy over a year or two at UCLA.

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“We’re very excited that Johnny will be able to play for us next season,” Cronin said Wednesday while thanking Erin Adkins, the school’s associate athletic director in compliance for her role in facilitating the waiver. “Johnny is a talented player who can definitely make an impact for us.”

Juzang will be classified as a sophomore and have three years of eligibility remaining. He was playing his best basketball toward the end of his one season at Kentucky, enjoying an uptick in his playing time and production over the last nine games, when he twice reached double figures in points. Overall, Juzang averaged 2.9 points and 1.9 rebounds while making 32.6% of his three-point attempts before entering the transfer portal.

Juzang had long been a fan of UCLA, attending games and practices while starring at Studio City Harvard-Westlake High. He was the first recruit that Cronin met after taking over the Bruins’ program from predecessor Steve Alford but didn’t have much time to establish a relationship before making his college choice. He picked Kentucky after reclassifying into the Class of 2019.

Cronin and Juzang spoke on the phone every day after Juzang reopened his recruiting this spring and learned they lived only 3.2 miles apart but could not see each other in person because of recruiting restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Once the Bruins are allowed back on campus, Juzang will get to play for his new coach without having to sit out a season.

“Thinking about competing for a national title for the hometown team under coach Cronin is something that genuinely motivates me and wants me to get after it,” Juzang said last month after announcing his transfer to the Bruins, “so I’m super excited.”


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