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Johnny Juzang motivated by his older brother

Johnny Juzang (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Most Kentucky basketball fans will probably never know when Harvard is playing basketball this season. Kentucky freshman Johnny Juzang will.

His older brother, Christian, is a senior and started 25 of 29 games last year when he averaged 8.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game to help Harvard win the Ivy League championship.

“I am so excited to watch him play,” Johnny Juzang said. “That this is his last year blows my mind. He is one of my closest and best friends. Definitely a source of motivation for me and in the summer times he usually comes back home, so we would spend summers together, run all over town and work out 3-4 times a day. He is super close to me and I love him to death.”

The transition from California to life in Lexington has not been that difficult for Juzang — or at least it hadn’t been until he got so excited when he got his first opportunity to go in against Georgetown College in Sunday’s exhibition game and forgot to properly check in at the scorer’s table.

“It has been a lot of fun. Obviously we are doing what we love here every day and everything is provided for us that we could ever need, so that is great and super comfortable,” Juzang said. “You don’t have to worry about too much. It has also been a great experience … campus life is really fun. We are having fun out here for sure.”

Juzang will be the first player of Asian descent to play basketball for Kentucky. Calipari isn’t sure about the significance to that because he doesn’t worry about things like that. He says he never looks at what brand of shoes players wear or if they have tattoos.

“I don’t care if they’re black, brown, white, yellow, it doesn’t matter to me. Is he a good teammate, can he help us? When you hear their family story, you are rooting for this kid. When you hear the family story, I don’t care what his background is. When you hear the story, you want this kid to do well,” Calipari said. “He has an inner fire and a fight in him and he’s skilled and he’s smart.”

Calipari had the first Latin backcourt in the history of the NCAA at UMass and that team went to the Final Four.

“What did it mean? It was great in Puerto Rico and the Dominican (Republic) and all those things,” Calipari said. “I would say there’s going to be people across the country where their children are going to look up to Johnny Juzang. I believe that. But he’s here because he can really play basketball and he’s a great kid and a great teammate.”

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