With many of the big name early entrants deciding to forgo participation in this June’s NBA Draft, the collective potential talent pool has definitely taken a major hit. But it has also opened doors for lesser-known products to rise up and surprise a team or two. One of those hopeful applicants is Northwestern junior forward, John Shurna. And Shurna’s no stranger to the spotlight, at least in the Midwest. The prospect from Glen Ellyn, Ill., has been giving the Big Ten the business for the last two seasons.
After dropping averages of 18.2 points and 6.4 boards a game last season, Shurna returned to campus as a junior to the tune of 16.6 and 4.9 a game. His dip in production was in part due to a severe ankle sprain suffered 10 games into the Wildcats’ schedule. In fact, the kid was on pace to average over 23 a game before the injury occurred. But even with the setback, Shurna was able to garner third-team All-Big Ten honors, following up a sophomore campaign that netted him second-team All-Big Ten. As a squad during that time, he has also led the Wildcats to a 40-28 overall record and consecutive NIT appearances.
What makes the 6-8 Shurna such a tough cover, despite his size, is that he’s a big body who can handle the rock and is more than comfortable extending outside the three-point arc. In each of his last two seasons, he has made at least 75 treys, while shooting over 43 percent from deep this year. This is from a guy who is still looked upon to add force inside for Northwestern’s frontline. He’s far from having an orthodox classic shooting stroke – he sort of pushes the ball toward the rim – but Shurna’s form seems to work just fine for him. And against NCAA Tournament teams this year, St. John’s and Michigan, Shurna dropped in 28 and 24 respectively.
Shurna has decided not to hire an agent, leaving the door open to retain his eligibility and return to school if he withdraws his name by the May 8th deadline. While it appears likely that he would return for his senior season, if Shurna can string together some impressive workouts, his days could be numbered in Evanston. Either way, we’re taking note of the guy.
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