UK Recruiting

Kentucky basketball expected to land another highly touted recruit Friday

California basketball prospect Johnny Juzang is the No. 34-ranked player in the 2019 class, according to Rivals.com.
California basketball prospect Johnny Juzang is the No. 34-ranked player in the 2019 class, according to Rivals.com. Los Angeles Daily News

It looks like the UK basketball recruiting class of 2019 is about to get one more member.

Johnny Juzang — a 6-foot-6 backcourt player from the Los Angeles area — is scheduled to announce his college decision at 7 p.m. Friday, and he recently narrowed his choices to Kentucky, Kansas, Oregon and Virginia.

On the eve of his commitment, one program had the clear edge.

“Everything’s gone in favor of Kentucky for the past month,” Rivals.com national analyst Corey Evans told the Herald-Leader on Thursday night. “From the timing of his reclassification, to (John) Calipari going to see him, to visiting Kentucky, to the offer. It all kind of adds up, I think.”

Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari talks to the media on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018, about recruiting. UK lost out on James Wiseman, the top recruit for the class of 2019, who announced Tuesday he will attend Memphis.

Juzang — the No. 34 overall player in the 2019 class, according to the Rivals.com rankings — hosted Calipari and assistant coach Joel Justus for an in-home visit on April 19. A UK scholarship offer was extended during that meeting. Five days later, Juzang announced he was moving from the 2020 class to 2019, allowing him to play college basketball next season. Five days after that, he was on UK’s campus for an official visit. And a little more than a week after that, he set Friday as his announcement date.

The only other program to host him for an official visit was Virginia, and that trip happened several months ago. The national champion Cavaliers took a commitment from junior college shooting guard Tomas Woldetensae on Wednesday.

“It kind of adds up to Kentucky getting this thing done,” Evans said.

Evans is among several analysts on Rivals.com’s site to log FutureCast predictions in favor of the Cats. Juzang’s 247Sports Crystal Ball page is also filled with pro-UK picks from national analysts.

Justus has been keeping in contact with Juzang for several months, but the level of Calipari’s involvement in the recruitment took off in the past few weeks. The escalation of the process, in this particular case, is the latest example of just how much cachet UK continues to have on the national recruiting scene.

“I think it just goes to show how great of a pull the Kentucky brand and Calipari still have,” Evans said. “To go 2,000 miles west and get a top-30 prospect to reclassify and commit with only investing one full month’s worth of attention — it shows how fierce of a pull that Kentucky has still.”

If Juzang does indeed pick UK on Friday, he will join a recruiting class that already includes four high school signees — Tyrese Maxey, Kahlil Whitney, Keion Brooks and Dontaie Allen — as well as graduate transfer Nate Sestina.

The addition of Juzang — and the possible addition of five-star recruit Jaden McDaniels in the near future — would give Kentucky a clear path to the No. 1 recruiting class for the 2019 cycle.

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