Over the last three weeks, the Kentucky Wildcats have slowly found themselves and gotten into a groove that’s led to a four-game winning streak.
A big part of that has been simply staying healthy, as Kentucky couldn’t catch a break with the injury bug over the first month of the season. Immanuel Quickley, EJ Montgomery, Nick Richards, Nate Sestina and Dontaie Allen all missed time with various injuries, while Ashton Hagans has battled through leg and ankle injuries without missing a game.
With the exception of Allen, all of those other guys have gotten healthy and helped Kentucky start to look like the Final Four contender we all thought they could become.
However, there’s been another recent setback in the form of freshman guard Johnny Juzang, who has missed the last three games due to an illness. He did take part in pregame shooting prior to Saturday’s win over Alabama, a sign that he’s close to making his return.
On Tuesday, associate head coach Kenny Payne gave a brief update on Juzang’s status heading into Wednesday’s matchup with the South Carolina Gamecocks.
“Johnny is getting better. I think he started practice a couple of days ago. He’s been doing well. Got to work him back into the rotation and see where he helps us. It starts with defense. I know everybody wants to talk about his shooting and he’s known as a shooter, but we need guys that can defend and get us stops.”
For what it’s worth, Juzang is making the trip to Columbia, so perhaps we’ll see him back in action Wednesday night.
Juzang came to Kentucky regarded as a great shooter who could expand Kentucky’s offense, but thus far, he’s hit just 2/14 attempts from deep while attempting just one triple in his last four games.
Kentucky is getting great production from its three-headed backcourt of Tyrese Maxey, Immanuel Quickley and Ashton Hagans, but they ideally can have one more guard who can step in and make shots when one of them is on the bench, or Heaven forbid, injured.
It’s been a rough start for Juzang’s college career thus far, but Kentucky still needs someone else to step up and carve out a role off the bench, so perhaps he can eventually become that guy as the season progresses.