It was a tough start to the season for Johnny Juzang. He was forced to watch from the sidelines while nursing an injury as his Harvard-Westlake team began their 2018-19 campaign.
He wouldn’t make his season debut until a few weeks ago at the Take Flight Challenge at Redondo Union High School. In a big matchup against fellow Class of 2020 prospect Josh Christopher and Mayfair. Juzang showed no signs of rust as his 26 points powered the Wolverines to a 71-45 win.
“It felt really good, I had a long offseason so I trained a lot,” Juzang told Mars Reel. “It felt nice to finally get back on the floor again and play. I kind of felt free a little bit, I love playing with my teammates.”
As most players do during the offseason, Juzang spent the summer working on his game as he headed into a critical junior year. It was a little bit different for him though as he had the opportunity to play with the top boys AAU program in the country, the Compton Magic.
— Compton Magic (@Compton_Magic) January 24, 2019
Playing with the Compton Magic was a different type of challenge for Juzang, one that he wasn’t used to. The roster had no shortage of talent, featuring other nationally ranked local players such as Isaiah and Evan Mobley of Rancho Christian, Jarod Lucas of Los Altos, and Jaylen Clark of Corona Centennial to name a few.
Juzang had to adapt his game in order to fit in, a challenge that he believes helped him tremendously in the long run.
“I think I got way better moving off the ball. That was definitely a different situation than playing with my high school team and what I’m used to,” Juzang said. “Think about that team and how many good players we had. I definitely got better moving off the ball.”
Since arriving at Harvard-Westlake, Juzang’s knack for scoring the basketball is a big part of what’s made him a highly sought after player by Division I colleges. But another aspect of his game that he had to focus on while playing with the Magic, is his defense.
Working towards becoming a player that affects both ends of the court will only make him that much more appealing to potential college recruiters.
“We had so much talent on that team, I had to hold my own on defense. On ball defense, off ball defense, talking, I really had to start doing a lot of the little things to make my mark on that team and to even get minutes too,” Juzang said. “I think it helped in a lot of aspects, just bringing my game up and my weaknesses and just making those strengths.”
The skills he worked on over the summer are already on display this season. And this is a very important season for Juzang as more college offers start to roll in.
As of now, he holds 15 offers from Division I schools including: Virginia, Kansas, UCLA, USC, Alabama, Arizona State, Cal, Marquette, Miami, Nevada, Oregon, San Diego State, UNLV, Utah, and Washington.
Juzang is confident that he’ll be able to fit in with whatever school he chooses.
“I’m looking for a winning program. I definitely want to play on a big stage with a coaching staff I really like. A coaching staff where I like the head coach’s philosophy and how they do things not just on the court but off the court,” Juzang said. “I think as a player I can fit in to any system. I think I adjust well and that I’ll find a way to be on the court. But a system that’s really going to showcase what I do and that fits me.”
For now, however, Juzang is focused on helping the Wolverines be the best team they can be this season. Aside from his improvements on the court, he also is working towards being the best leader he can be for Harvard-Westlake.
As the end of the regular season nears, Juzang admits that the team has some lofty goals.
“I’ve just been working on my game overall, just trying to make everything better. I’m just trying to find ways every day to be a winner and a better leader,” Juzang said. “We’re going for it all. I want to win Open Division, I want to get a league championship, city and state, we’re going for it all. And just being the best we possibly can as a team every day, trying to reach our potential every day.”
David Yapkowitz is a contributor for Mars Reel based in Southern California. You can follow him: @Dave_Yapkowitz