Johnny Juzang was commonly referred to as "J-Silk" by those around him in the early stages of his basketball development.
His former high school coach, David Rebibo, thinks the nickname suits Juzang perfectly because he looks so smooth and effortless on the court. But those in Juzang's orbit know that he didn't achieve success on natural talent alone.
The UCLA guard had a hunger to be great while playing for Rebibo at Harvard-Westlake School in L.A., but he knew he wouldn't be successful without putting in the work.
Since ninth grade, Juzang spent his summers playing for AAU powerhouse Compton Magic alongside future NBA lottery picks Evan Mobley and Onyeka Okongwu and current USC starting forward Isaiah Mobley. Those periods allowed Juzang to self-evaluate his progress. He always picked up certain things from other players and hoped to apply that knowledge when he returned to Harvard-Westlake a few months later.
"The one thing that always stood out about Johnny was just how passionate and serious he was about the game of basketball," Rebibo told theScore ahead of Tuesday's Final Four rematch between the Bruins and top-ranked Gonzaga.
"He was always very thoughtful about what he needed to do and how he needed to go about doing it," Rebibo added. "And just very engaged in that. Just never wanting time off."