UCLA’s Johnny Juzang declares for NBA draft while preserving option to return

UCLA's Johnny Juzang points up while walking toward teammates
UCLA’s Johnny Juzang (3) reacts during the Bruins’ loss to Gonzaga in the Final Four. Juzang announced Tuesday he is declaring for the NBA draft.
(Tim Nwachukwu / Getty Images)

Johnny Juzang is about to find out how much his NCAA tournament scoring spree boosted his professional stock.

The UCLA sophomore guard announced on social media Tuesday that he would declare for the NBA draft while retaining his college eligibility, preserving his ability to return for one more college season.

“For many years, I’ve dreamt about playing professional basketball,” Juzang wrote on Twitter and Instagram. “But the journey to get to this point has truly been the beautiful part, crossing paths with such great people: coaches, mentors, and brothers. I’m proud to announce that I’m declaring for the NBA Draft, while retaining my collegiate eligibility.”


The move allows Juzang, who averaged 22.8 points during the Bruins’ unexpected run to the Final Four, to gather information about where he might be selected in the draft before making his decision. He has until July 7 to withdraw from the draft and preserve his college eligibility.

Three NBA scouts who recently spoke with The Times said they were intrigued by Juzang’s scoring ability but did not consider him a probable first-round pick in what’s expected to be a deep draft. Two of the scouts said they would like to see Juzang develop more of an all-around game, including improved defense, and show he can sustain his scoring outburst over more than a handful of games before heading to the NBA.

The UCLA men’s basketball team received commitments from Rutgers transfer center Myles Johnson and Los Angeles Windward High point guard Dylan Andrews.

April 16, 2021

“We all support Johnny and, for that matter, all of our players in the future who are making these types of decisions,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said in a statement. “I will work closely with Johnny and his family on fact-finding and anything else we can do to support them in this process.


“I ask of our fans to be understanding, as these young men all love UCLA but also deserve the right to explore their professional status. Johnny is a great young man and hopefully we can all stand with him in this process together.”

The 6-foot-6 Juzang finished the season as UCLA’s leading scorer, averaging 16.0 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. His 137 points in six NCAA tournament games were the second most in school history, trailing only Gail Goodrich’s 140 points in four games in the 1965 NCAA tournament that the Bruins won by beating Michigan in the championship game.

UCLA senior guard Chris Smith, who missed the final three months of the season after suffering a torn knee ligament, also has to make a decision about his future. Smith could head to the NBA draft or return to UCLA and not count against the team’s scholarship limits after the NCAA granted an eligibility extension to all players in the wake of the pandemic.