Trending Prospects (2/3/2012)February 3, 2012
Last time we checked in on John Shurna
, we noted that he struggled to take another significant step forward as a junior after a breakout sophomore season. Withdrawing from the NBA draft to play his senior season at Northwestern, the Illinois native is having a year in-step with the one he had as a sophomore. Bouncing back from a less than stellar junior year, the question-marks about Shurna's NBA potential remain largely unchanged, and while his numbers have rebounded, he has not been able to lead his team to many victories in what could be the toughest Big Ten slate he's faced in his Wildcat career.
A prolific perimeter threat at the college level who has led Northwestern in scoring in each of the last three seasons and in rebounding in two of the last three, Shurna is an incredibly savvy player who makes the most of his time on the floor with his consistently high effort level.
Standing 6'8.5 with a matching wingspan and below average strength and athleticism, the main questions facing Shurna as a prospect start with his physical profile, what position he defends at the next level, and how he'll adjust to the speed of the NBA game. Given his weaknesses, it isn't difficult to see that Shurna's potential is as more of a roleplayer, despite his success as a collegiate scorer.
Fortunately for the soon-to-be graduate, he has a definable NBA skill, fitting the mold of some of the spot-up shooting specialists we've seen in the past. Though his ability to be in the right place at the right time and do the little things are major parts of his success in the college game, it is his prolific jump shooting ability that keeps him on the NBA radar.
Attempting as many 3-pointers per-40 minutes pace adjusted
as almost any power forward prospect in our database, Shurna has a quick, effortless release with little wasted motion that helps compensate for his somewhat unorthodox mechanics and low release point. Showing range out to the NBA line with some regularity already, nearly 40% of Shurna's shot attempts are catch and shoot jump shots according to Synergy Sports Technology, and his 43% shooting on such attempts are indicative of how he could help spread the floor at the next level.
Inside the arc, Shurna is as crafty a player as you'll find in the NCAA. He is not a dynamic threat off the dribble, and is not nearly as reliable a shooter off the bounce as he is off the catch, but his work ethic, patience, and feel for cutting to the rim make him a great fit in Northwestern's system and earn him plenty of easy looks around the basket and trips to the line. Though such looks will be far more difficult to come by in the NBA, Shurna's willingness to make easy plays and do exactly what his coaches ask of him could be plusses for him in a smaller offensive role.
On the defensive end, we've covered Shurna's attributes in detail in the past. He's as crafty and hard working as one would expect a player with his basketball IQ to be, but his lateral quickness is a limitation in staying in front of small forwards and his lack of strength is equally as problematic keeping power forwards away from the rim even in the college game. Additionally, he continues to rank as one of the worst rebounding
power forwards in our database, which is likely to be even more of an issue in the NBA.
A candidate for the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, Shurna is very much a known commodity at this point in many regards. He still has some things to prove defensively in competitive workouts, and his ability to hold his own on that end of the floor will be a key sticking point in how teams view the value of his spot-up shooting ability.
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Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big Ten, Part Two (#6-10)September 8, 2011
After taking a large step forward with his game as a sophomore, John Shurna
mostly stood pat in his junior season, actually seeing a slight reduction in production in a few areas. Shurna did improve on his three-point shooting, which is critical for his NBA chances, but still faces a few question marks with his game as a senior.
On the offensive end, Shurna has a very cut-and-dry game with his biggest assets clearly being his spot-up shooting ability and superb basketball IQ. Playing in his team's Princeton Offense, Shurna does an excellent job reading the floor with and without the ball, facilitating ball movement and spacing for his team.
Shurna's basketball IQ shows up in his passing game, where he's very adept at reading lanes and angles, while frequently making pinpoint passes on backdoor cuts to his teammates. He finds himself on the opposite end of these plays just as often, where he shows very good coordination on catch-and-finishes in the lane. Not the best athlete from a quickness or explosiveness standpoint, Shurna does manage to elevate well on these cuts, where he builds momentum with a running start without having to dribble.
In terms of his shooting abilities, Shurna has a quick release with NBA range and he hit an impressive 43.4% from behind the arc as a junior on 5.4 attempts per game. His shot has a slight pushing motion to it, but his combination of quick mechanics and always being ready off the ball helps him get off his shot with ease. Shurna is also serviceable knocking down spot-up shots from the mid range, coming off screens, and hitting one-dribble pull-ups in space, where he shows good decision-making ability and rarely forces shots.
Moving beyond his contributions as a passing, cutting, and shooting cog in his team's well-run offense, Shurna is lacking in more dynamic offensive attributes, being very underwhelming when it comes to creating his own offense. Not possessing a great first step or ball-handling ability, Shurna struggles in pure isolation situations and isn't frequently able to either get space for a pull-up jumper or get past his man going to the basket. And aside from an occasional turnaround jumper from the mid-post, he doesn't bring much to the table with his back to the basket either.
Shurna does handle himself fairly well on drives to the basket where he starts with a half-step on his man, doing a good job controlling himself on straight-line drives and showing nice creativity and touch around the rim, but his lack of athleticism and strength show up when facing help-side defense in the lane, where he will likely face much more trouble at the NBA level.
On the defensive end, Shurna appears to be somewhat caught between positions, not having the lateral quickness necessary to defend NBA 3's and not having the length or strength to defend NBA 4's. He's almost always his team's de facto power forward on the floor at Northwestern, but he's frequently matched up with players who are more stylistically similar to NBA small forwards.
Measuring out a surprising 6-10 in shoes at the New Jersey workouts helps his cause somewhat, but the fact that he has just a 6-8 ½ wingspan negates that somewhat.
In isolations, Shurna is frequently beaten off the dribble by his man, though he does a good job contesting shots from behind while riding his man's hip in the lane. Shurna's problems defending post-ups are even more concerning, where he is severely lacking in lower body strength and is backed down and scored over at a very high rate. To Shurna's credit, he is very attentive and scrappy on the defensive end, constantly hustling and not often being caught out of position, but his lack of position and underwhelming physical attributes are problematic. As too is his glaring weakness on the boards, where he pulled in just 6.0 rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted as a junior, a step back from his 7.4 as a sophomore, which was already very poor.
Looking forward, Shurna brings some clear-cut positive attributes to the table from an NBA perspective, namely his three-point shooting, passing, cutting, ability to play in a team offense, and general basketball IQ. He's clearly caught between positions defensively, but his best chance would appear to be as a reserve stretch-four for a team that plays small ball, where his negative attributes could be somewhat curbed. Maximizing his physical attributes, becoming a more serviceable rebounder, and continuing to improve as a three-point shooter could all help his stock, but he doesn't appear to have a ceiling much higher than what he currently is.
With that said, there are a number of players in the NBA who fit a similar mold, so clearly there is already a blueprint in place for him to find a niche in the league.
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Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big Ten, Part Three (#11-15) September 6, 2010
One of the most improved players in the nation last season, John Shurna capitalized on the opportunity presented by a season-ending injury to Kevin Coble. Stepping up to seize Coble's role as Northwestern's top scorer, Shurna was one of the most productive players in the Big Ten and is poised for another big year for the Wildcats after a summer which included a stint playing on the USA Select Team in Las Vegas. From an NBA perspective, Shurna has some clear shortcomings but his production, basketball IQ and skill-level are hard to ignore.
Standing 6'8 with a solid wingspan, Shurna has good size for the small forward spot, but would be a bit undersized at the four on the NBA level. His biggest weaknesses athletically are his lack of physical strength and lateral quickness. While neither of those traits limit him that much at Northwestern, they raise some concerns about his ability to defend either forward spot at the NBA level.
Despite his shortcomings athletically from an NBA perspective, Shurna's skill set and physical tools are perfectly tailored to Northwestern's Princeton-style offense. His long arms and soft touch allow him to pull down and finish the numerous lob passes he's thrown when he cuts to the basket and exploit the mismatches he sees in the post. A gifted catch and shoot threat, Shurna attempted 6.5 3-pointers per-game last season, converting 35.5% of them. He has an extremely quick release, little wasted motion in his mechanics, and his size gives him the extra space he needs to get his shot off with a hand in his face. His experience in the Princeton offense make him adept at moving without the ball and operating off of screens, but on top of that, he shows a tremendous feel for the game offensively.
The question is how those skills will translate to the next level. Capitalizing on smaller defenders and creating very little off the dribble, Shurna's lack of great leaping ability and strength suggest that he won't enjoy the same success as a finisher on the NBA level, making his jump shooting that much more important. While he shot a respectable percentage from three last season, Shurna's ability to emerge as a top-flight 40+% marksman could improve his NBA stock considerably. He has a great basketball IQ and work ethic, but questions about his athleticism and defensive potential could predispose him to being considered a one-dimensional stretch-four.
Defensively, Shurna proves to be highly competitive, and his length allows him to effectively contest shots out on the perimeter. However, his lateral quickness limits his ability to deny penetration and his lack of physical strength would make him a target for NBA-caliber athletes in the post. While he may not have the tools to be a great one-on-one NBA defender, he's a highly coachable player on all accounts, shows outstanding discipline, and has the timing to make plays from time to time.
Unfortunately Shurna's activity level does not translate to the glass, as he rates as one of the worst rebounding power forward prospects in college basketball. This is surely something he will need to improve on.
Heading into his junior season, Shurna has come a long way in a short period of time. He wasn't a heralded recruit, but ranked as one of the most productive players in his class last season. That said, he still has some things to work on to legitimize his candidacy for the NBA draft. If he can add some weight to his frame, become more consistent both off the catch and off the dribble, and continue to play at a high level, he should garner some buzz down the road.
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USA Basketball Junior National Teams Tryouts: Top PerformersJune 20, 2009
Northwestern’s John Shurna did a very nice job in the tryouts and is likely to carve out a solid niche for himself on this team, as he’s one of the few big men who can space the floor, and is smart and hard-working enough a player to not hurt you in other areas. Shurna is more athletic than he looks on first glance, but is first and foremost a solid perimeter shooter. He runs the floor hard, has a nice feel for the game, and quickly endeared himself to the coaching staff with his willingness to do what’s asked of him.
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