By LARRY VAUGHT
Having the NCAA give Johnny Juzang a waiver so he could play next season at UCLA after transferring from Kentucky in March was not a huge surprise.
However, what is a HUGE surprise is that the NCAA did it so quickly. An organization that usually takes forever on these waivers wasted no time ruling Juzang eligible.
He’s from California and various media reports noted that Juzang’s waiver was based in large part because of a “personal family situation” that led to his transfer to be closer to home.
UCLA coach Mick Cronin said last month when Juzang picked UCLA the he had “personal things with his family” that brought him to UCLA. Cronin said Wednesday that the 6-6 Juzang could “definitely make an impact” for UCLA next season. He will have three years of eligibility left after averaging 2.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game in limited action at UK last season playing behind Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley and Tyrese Maxey. But he did play 33 minutes and scored 10 points in the dramatic comeback win at Florida in what turned out to be UK’s final game last season.
Juzang was recruited by UCLA out of high school but opted for Kentucky when he reclassified to the 2019 recruiting class.
What’s interesting about the reasoning to perhaps give Juzang such a quick eligibility approval to be closer to home is that after leaving UK he listed a final six transfer options of Arizona, Notre Dame, Oregon, Texas Tech, UCLA and Villanova.
“I like their styles of play and I like the fit and these are realistic options fit wise. Ultimately I think they are good places and have a need,” Juzang said when he listed his final six.
No mention of wanting to stay close to home — Notre Dame and Villanova are farther from California than UK.
Contrast this quick decision to how long it likely will take for the NCAA to rule on Olivier Sarr transferring from Wake Forest to Kentucky for his senior season. Like Juzang, he will need a waiver to be eligible next season.
Wake Forest fired the coach who recruited him — Danny Manning — and did so only days before the deadline for underclassmen to apply for the NBA draft. Many national college basketball analysts have said it should be a no-brainer for the NCAA to let Sarr, a center that UK could desperately use, play next season. Yet many wonder if the NCAA will give Sarr the waiver to play for UK.
So just because Juzang got his waiver so quickly, don’t expect anything nearly this quick on the Sarr decision.