INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Johnny Juzang’s impact at UCLA has been immediate since he transferred from Kentucky, giving the Bruins the scorer and dynamic player they had been missing in recent years.
The junior guard is playing his best at just the right time, leading the Bruins into the Final Four for the first time since 2008.
Juzang also has had a much broader impact, even if it has been unintentional.
Projected to be the second Asian American NBA first-round pick, possibly in the lottery, he has become an inspiration for younger players at a time when hate crimes against Asian Americans are on the rise.
”It’s not something that’s on the top of my mind or really think about. I’m just Johnny,” said Juzang, whose mother is Vietnamese. ”I will get messages or hear stories about how I inspire people, regardless of their heritage. Sometimes there are people of Asian decent. But just being able to inspire people is something that’s touching and inspires me and something I don’t take lightly.”
Juzang’s older brother Christian played at Harvard and led the Saigon Heat to the 2020 championsh ip in the Vietnamese Basketball Association.
Christian was the top pick in the VBA draft, and the younger Juzang looks like he has an even brighter professional future. He has thrived on the court since transferring to Westwood. A former five-star recruit, the 6-foot-6 guard was a role player on a loaded Kentucky team, averaging 2.9 points and 1.9 assists in 28 games as a freshman.