What’s Being Said About Emerging College Star John Shurna


By Paul M. Banks

It’s another day and another game, and another career high in points for Northwestern forward John Shurna. Last night, Shurna’s 29 points against Central Connecticut State were a new benchmark. He finished just shy of becoming the fifth player in the Big Ten to score 30 points in a game this season. Two of those four are teammates Michael “Juice” Thompson and Drew Crawford. The trio has helped 10-1 NU become one of just four schools in the country who have posted four nonconference wins against BCS conference schools; joining Texas, Kentucky and Wisconsin.

And it’s Shurna who has become the Wildcats’ go-to guy, averaging over 15 points a game (second on the team behind Juice) and leading the squad with close to 8 boards per contest.

“He’s a hard-guard. He started a little slow in the 1st few games, but he’s consistently getting more dependable,” his Coach Bill Carmody said. Shurna’s positive growth this season is partially due to the summer he spent playing abroad with Team USA’s under-19 team. “Any time you have the chance to play with and against the best talent in the world, you can learn a lot,” Shurna said about the experience.

I asked Carmody what the key has been to John’s growth (other than the U-19 trip of course) “Coaching,” he responded jokingly before continuing “nah, seriously we was underrated when he came out of high school.”

Another reporter asked if Shurna might start to develop a big head after scoring 23 and 25 points on back-to-back nights against top notch competition in the Chicago Invitational. Coach had a candid and unique reply. “No, he’s such a humble kid. It’s hard to get that kid to be confident. You know that guy, he looks like he’s 14 years old. He’s a little goofy, God bless him.”

When Shurna would come to the podium to talk to the media last year, his soft-spoken, quiet nervousness reminded me of Paulie Bleeker (the character played by actor Michael Cera) in the indie smash “Juno”. They kind of look alike too. Well, I think so.


This year, his public speaking style appears to be much more self-assured, relaxed, and authoritative.  And his play on the court is giving him plenty of reason to be self-confident.

Shurna averaged 20.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists in NU’s four victories that brought the ‘Cats the Chicago Invitational title. John tallied a then career-high 25 points over the 23rd-ranked Irish and followed it up with 23 points against the Cyclones as the Wildcats handed both teams their first loss of the season. His efforts earned him the tournament MVP award as he outshined All-America candidates Luke Harangody of Notre Dame and Craig Brackins of Iowa State.  Brackins mentioned how impressed he was with Shurna’s game after the tourney, as did ND coach Mike Brey: “He’s a crafty guy, a tricky guy to guard.”

Last Saturday, Shurna’s 22 points led all scorers as NU beat Stanford at Welsh-Ryan Arena. The Cardinal Head Coach Johnny Dawkins took note of #24’s talent and abilities. “With his presence on the floor, you have to be aware of him in so many places. With his range, he opens up the floor for his teammates. He’s a versatile player, he can post you, he can bounce it a little bit.” As the season continues, expect many more opposing players and coaches to extol the virtues of Shurna.

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  1. He’s had an all-big 10 season so far

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