By KEITH TAYLOR, Kentucky Today
LEXINGTON — Johnny Juzang is a shooter and he’s not afraid to admit he has a feel for making shots.
“I’ve always had kind of a touch. I’m not saying that to (push) myself up, but I’ve always had the touch and it’s something that I definitely work on extensively,” he said. “It’s something that I work on a lot.”
Juzang turned in an impressive performance during Kentucky’s Pro Day earlier this month, which wasn’t a surprise to Kentucky coach John Calipari.
“(Johnny) can shoot the ball, he’s learning to defend, learning to be the rebounder (and) he can be because of his size,” the Kentucky coach said. “The best thing is, when Johnny shoots it, everybody thinks it’s in. He shoots the ball. There are shooters and there are makers. We have had some makers, we have also had shooters here. Go 1-for-8. When he shoots it, you think the ball’s going in. And he’s a natural scorer.”
For Juzang, the ability to shoot the ball with confidence is the result of years of hard work and credits his trainers for pushing him behind the scenes.
“I get it through repetition, but I’ve been really fortunate over the years to have great trainers, especially over the last couple of years and a lot of help with being efficient, mechanics and things like that,” he said. “You can do all the repetition, but if you’re not working on the right stuff, it’s kind of counter-productive. I’ve been fortunate to have guys who can make it easy for me.”
If you ask Juzang, his best shot is behind the arc.
“Sometimes I feel like I shoot the three better than a mid-range (shot),” he said. “Maybe it’s because I shoot so many of them. Pull-up (jumpers) and threes (are my best shots).”
Despite a knack for shooting the ball, the collegiate game has been a learning curve for the freshman forward.
“It’s an adjustment for sure, but it’s a great challenge playing and most of all, it’s fun playing with all of this talent and all of these guys who can really, really play,” he said. “Each one of us pushes each other every day and I think we cll get so much better from it.”
The competition is just what Juzang expected when he arrived on campus and loves the challenge each and every day in practice.
“In high school, you can get away with things and you’re that guy and then you come to a place like this and this is the reason why people pick a place,” he said. “I want to go in with guys who think like me, who are talented and push each other to get better and compete every single day. That’s why we all picked this place. It’s been an adjustment, but it’s been really rewarding already so far. We’re just getting started.”
Juzang isn’t sure what his role will be, but he knows making shots will keep him on the court on a consistent basis this season. He also wants to be an unselfish contributor.
“I don’t think there are defined roles, but being a shot-maker, is something that can get you on the floor and that’s something (the coaches) push me on so much,” he said. “They push you to be an all-around great player. I came here as a shot-maker, but they’re pushing me every day to become an all-around player.”
Juzang is well on his way to greater heights on the court.
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Gametracker: Blue-White Game, 7 p.m., Friday. TV/Radio: SEC Network, UK Radio Network.
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at email@example.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.