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Men’s basketball guard Johnny Juzang withdraws from NBA Draft, stays with UCLA

UCLA men’s basketball rising junior guard Johnny Juzang is withdrawing his name from the 2021 NBA Draft and will return to Westwood. Juzang led the team with 16 points per game a season ago, including a six-game stretch in the NCAA tournament with an average of 22.8 points per game. (Andy Bao/Daily Bruin staff)

By Jon Christon

July 7, 2021 8:00 p.m.

This post was updated July 11 at 9:04 p.m.

The Bruins’ Final Four squad is running it back with its catalyst front and center.

UCLA men’s basketball guard Johnny Juzang is withdrawing his name from the 2021 NBA Draft and returning to Westwood, the rising junior announced via Instagram. Rising redshirt senior forward Cody Riley also was in the draft process, but withdrew earlier in the day Wednesday, meaning the Bruins will officially return every active player from last year’s NCAA tournament roster.

Juzang declared for the draft April 20, but didn’t sign with an agent, and had until Wednesday to withdraw his name and retain collegiate eligibility. 

“Going through the draft process has been an amazing experience,” Juzang said in his Instagram post. “I was blessed to connect with great people, learn and grow and get a feel for life at the next level.”

After an up-and-down showing at the NBA Draft Combine, Juzang fell out of the first round in ESPN and CBS Sports’ mock drafts. The guard also dropped to No. 51 in The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie’s 2021 NBA Draft Big Board. 

Last year’s leading scorer for the Bruins with 16 points per game, Juzang filled in as the go-to scorer once guard Chris Smith went down with a torn ACL in January, raising his average to 19.7 points per game through the last 14 contests of the season, including a 22.8 average in six NCAA tournament games. Juzang earned All-Pac-12 Second Team and All-NCAA Tournament First Team selections for his play. 

“We are very excited Johnny will be returning to UCLA,” said coach Mick Cronin in a statement. “Obviously, we had a special run in March and Johnny, playing on a sprained ankle, was magnificent along with his teammates. We are all excited to get back to work and build on our success.”

With Juzang and Riley back in the fold, UCLA will only lose Smith, who missed the entirety of UCLA’s postseason run and announced his intentions to move on from the program Monday, and forward Jalen Hill, who left the team in January for personal reasons.

The Bruins will also add three newcomers to the roster, with five-star forward Peyton Watson and four-star guard Will McClendon making up the 2021 freshman recruiting class. Graduate transfer center Myles Johnson will also join the team from Rutgers, giving UCLA the maximum 13 scholarship players.

“Westwood, I can’t wait to go to war!” Juzang said. “We’ve got a team full of warriors and there’s nobody I’d rather fight beside. With Coach Cronin and our staff, I’m very excited for this season. Let’s do something special!”

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Jon Christon | Sports senior staff
Christon is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously the Sports editor on the men's basketball and football beats and the assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, softball, men's tennis and women's tennis beats. Christon was previously a contributor on the women's basketball and softball beats.
Christon is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously the Sports editor on the men's basketball and football beats and the assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, softball, men's tennis and women's tennis beats. Christon was previously a contributor on the women's basketball and softball beats.
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