Johnny Juzang is gaining momentum. You can see it on the court, even though it’s still barely showing up in the box score. The freshman reserve role player is doing everything he can to break through and knock down that door.
“I’m feeling good. I’m feeling good,” he said Friday morning.
The sharpshooter from California reclassified to join the program for the 2019-20 season. Things have not exactly gone according to plan. Juzang has made just three three-pointers all year and had to miss as many games with an illness. Instead of moping, Juzang has put his head down and gone to work. Learning how to continue to grind through the struggles has been the most difficult challenge of his young college career.
“Honestly, I wouldn’t say it’s one thing on the court, but it’s just keep pushing, keep pushing, keep the faith. You know what I mean? And just waking up every morning, working out, going hard, keeping the same drive and stuff like that, no matter the ups and downs. I would say honestly that’s the hardest thing. I wouldn’t say it’s any one thing on the court. It’s keeping faith and keep pushing through.”
Calipari must have liked what he saw from Juzang once the guard was healthy enough to play. He logged eight minutes at South Carolina, the most in a month, and grabbed five rebounds. He was rewarded with 17 minutes at Arkansas where he nailed his first three-pointer since November.
“Johnny puts in the work,” Tyrese Maxey said after the win at Arkansas. “He’s always in the gym. I have the ultimate faith in Johnny.”
Empowered by his teammates, Juzang now has more faith in his shot. Even though he missed his two three-point attempts against Georgia, he made all three shots from inside the arc to finish with six points and three rebounds in 18 minutes. The last three games have helped Juzang regain his confidence.
“Just been in the gym a lot just building my confidence,” he said, “I’ve been feeling really good and I’m excited to get on the road, play another big road game.”
Some may shy away from playing in enemy territory. Juzang can’t wait to have the chance to silence a crowd.
“I’ve always loved those big away games. Me, I’m just weird like that. I like being the villain coming in, you know what I mean? It always excites me a little bit.” He added: “You feel the energy.”