Inside the Numbers: Factors for Johnny Juzang to consider between UVA, UK

uva basketballSo, you’re Johnny Juzang, five-star recruit, and your choices are down to UVA and Kentucky.

(Yes, technically, he said last week that he’s also considering Kansas and Oregon. C’mon. It’s down to UVA and Kentucky. We all know this by now.)

So: UVA, Kentucky.

Tony Bennett, John Calipari.

What goes into your thinking when you’re trying to decide?

Academics

Juzang could very well be a one-and-done, at the least a two-and-done, so, this may not be a huge factor.

UVA has the slight edge in academics, ranking 25th among national universities in the 2019 U.S. News and World Report rendering of such things.

Kentucky: 147th.

One-and-done or not, the quality of the educational institution could play a role in the decision-making process.

Johnny’s older brother, Christian, just finished his junior season at Harvard. His parents. His father is the CEO of a healthcare staffing company; his mother is a financial advisor.

Even if you’re only going to school for a year or two on your way to the NBA, you might want the classes you’re taking to count for something.

Coaches: Bennett vs. Cal

You might not have realized this, but both were hired by their current employers in 2009.

And both have: wait for it.

One national championship.

Calipari is 305-71 in 10 years at Kentucky, with one natty and two (edit: three … whatever … dude can’t coach) other Final Four appearances.

Bennett is 254-89 in 10 years at Virginia, with the one natty that you might remember from a month ago.

Factor in that Bennett had to execute a rebuild at Virginia, with a 31-31 record after two seasons, before taking the program to an NCAA Tournament in his third, and, it’s a wash, in terms of program success.

Player development

Calipari has the edge in his guys going on to the NBA. Including his time at UMass and at Memphis, he has had 51 guys go on to the NBA.

Bennett has seven and counting, pending the 2019 NBA Draft.

Of note, about that 2019 NBA Draft: each coach looks to have three guys hearing their names called on draft night, based on reviews of several mock drafts.

As with the thing about both Cal and Bennett having the one natty each, you don’t think that about the two programs.

Virginia, for the moment, anyway, has caught UK.

Calipari’s stock in trade at UK has been recruiting players who are already on the radar for NBA executives and giving them a place to play for a year on their way between the preps and the pros.

Bennett has been a development guy. None of his current NBA guys were consensus Top 40 recruits or McDonald’s All-Americans, and that only changes marginally after this year.

(Guy was a McDonald’s All-American.)

Final analysis

UVA has the advantage in academics, but, you knew that, and it may not be a big factor, if Juzang isn’t thinking he’s going to be in college very long.

Calipari doesn’t have the edge on Bennett in terms of accomplishment that you would assume based on the PR.

Cal has a ton more guys in the NBA. Bennett is the better player-development guy.

But, Juzang may not think he needs much in terms of development.

If he’s looking at his college experience being another year of prep ball, he probably ends up, and fits better at, UK.

If he’s thinking he can get better as a player, and wants to spend his time off the court as productively as possible, he’s going to choose UVA.

My hunch is that he goes the former route, for what it’s worth.

Column by Chris Graham

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is now available at a special pre-sale discounted price of $20. The book is expected to ship by June 10, 2019, and will retail for $25.
Pre-order for $20: click here.


The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.
 
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