Johnny Juzang took the basketball world by storm last March.
But scoring a lot of points wasn't enough to get everyone on board, apparently.
The Athletic's Seth Davis released a list of his top 25 men’s college basketball players with something to prove, and the UCLA men's basketball guard came in at No. 1. Juzang averaged 14.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game on .409/.355/.933 shooting in the regular season last year, only to put up 22.8 points and 4.0 rebounds per game on .509/.375/.778 shooting in the Bruins' six-game run through the NCAA tournament.
Here's what Davis had to say about what's at stake for Juzang in 2021-2022:
Juzang had an NCAA Tournament for the ages, averaging 22.8 points and 4.0 rebounds while leading the Bruins from the First Four to the Final Four. That, however, was a step up from the regular season, when Juzang showed flashes of brilliance but was also plagued by inconsistency and injuries. He put his name into the NBA Draft but decided to return to Westwood, where he rejoins a consensus top-five team heading into the season. All eyes will be on Juzang in 2021-22, including more than a few back in Lexington who recall him as a freshman at Kentucky who transferred after averaging 12.3 minutes per game.
After spending his freshman year at Kentucky as a reserve playing just 12.3 minutes per game, Juzang transferred to UCLA in the 2020 offseason and wound up missing the first four games of the year due to injury. Once he got back on the court, Juzang broke the 20-point threshold four times in 20 regular season games.
The Bruins went 1-3 in those games, however, compared to 13-3 when he played and didn't hit that mark.
Then, in the NCAA tournament, Juzang was the driving force behind UCLA's run from the First Four to the Final Four. He scored 20-plus four times in the Indianapolis bubble alone, with the Bruins going 3-1 in those games, and Juzang became a local and national sensation in the process.
Davis isn't the only one who wasn't completely swayed by Juzang's breakout performance in March.
Juzang entered his name into the NBA Draft pool in the spring and earned an invite to the 2021 NBA Draft Combine. After getting worked out and meeting with teams and scouts, Juzang elected to return to Westwood for another year, insinuating he was not pegged as a sure-fire first round pick.
He will now return to coach Mick Cronin's rotation as the go-to scorer, surrounded by the exact same teammates who played alongside him last March, in addition to Rutgers transfer big man Myles Johnson, five-star freshman wing Peyton Watson and four-star freshman guard Will McClendon.
UCLA projects to be a consensus top-five team entering the season with Juzang, forward Jaime Jaquez Jr., guard Tyger Campbell and the rest of the gang all back in town.
Also making Davis' list was Gonzaga guard Andrew Nembhard, who put up 11 points and a game-high eight assists against UCLA in the Final Four, at No. 5. He projects to take on more of a ball-dominant role with lead guard Jalen Suggs departing for the NBA.
North Carolina forward Armando Bacot was No. 11 on Davis' list. Oregon center N'Faly Dante and USC forward Isaiah Mobley came in at No. 21 and No. 23, respectively.
Juzang and the Bruins will face all four of those players this season – the first two in their gauntlet of a nonconference schedule and the next two as part of Pac-12 play.