- Scott Powers, ESPN Staff Writer
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John Shurna has been forced to do something throughout his NBA draft preparation he refrained from throughout his Northwestern playing career.
Shurna has boasted about himself.
Shurna’s mentality has always been team first. Even as he broke Northwestern’s career scoring record last season, he deflected questions about his own abilities and praised his coaches and teammates for putting him in the position to score 2,038 career points. It’s just never been in his DNA to self congratulate.
Over the past month, however, Shurna has had to alter his personality for NBA general managers. While ultimately Shurna’s game – a 6-foot-9 forward whose premier NBA skill is shooting – will be the deciding factor whether a team selects him in Thursday’s NBA draft, he has looked to impress teams just as much during the interview portion of his workouts.
“I think every job interview you’re selling yourself,” Shurna said by phone from New Orleans on Tuesday. “Every time I would bring up the success we had as a team. You have to point out your own strengths and things like that. My agent was harping on me to make sure this was an individual thing. That was a tough adjustment going from everything is team oriented and you just want to win. It’ll be an individual process for one day on Thursday, and then it’s back to being about the team.”
Shurna is unsure what to expect Thursday. He worked out for 13 teams, including his final workout with the New Oreland Hornets on Thursday.
No team has guaranteed anything, but Shurna said most organizations have been positive with him. In a workout with the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday, he drained 36-of-40 3-pointers.
“I’m excited,” said Shurna, who missed Northwestern’s graduation due to a NBA workout. “I think I’ve received a lot of positive feedback. I think I’m a guy who continues to rise in this draft. At the end of the day, I know I’ve competed my hardest and given it all I can. I think that’s all you can do. I can look at myself in the mirror, and I did the best I can. After that, it’s out of my hands.”
Shurna’s size and shooting ability (he won the college 3-point title during the Final Four weekend) could prove attractive to an NBA team. Shurna’s upside could be similar to New York Knicks forward Steve Novak, a 6-10 forward from Marquette, who led the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage last season.
“I think shooting is an attribute I can bring to an organization,” Shurna said. “Every team can use shooting, and I’m a guy who has done that and proven it against the Big Ten and in these workouts. I’ve always thought one of my best attributes is I’m a competitor and I love to win. I’ll go out and make the hustle plays and run up and down the floor and do the little things that help a team to win.
“I also think from the Princeton offense in order to have success you have to be an all-around player, dribble, shoot, pass, shred the defense. I think I’ve shown I have a good all-around game and great base set of skills. I think there’s plenty of potential there still. I was very productive as a college player and our class was the winningest class at Northwestern. That’s the great stat I have. I’ve shown I can win and individually I’ve had a great deal of success.”
Shurna has been asked about his unorthodox shot. It’s never been a deterrent to him getting his shot off, and he has been told it shouldn’t be a factor in how he’s valued in the NBA.
“I think I’ve shown I’ve had success in college and every level I’ve gone with it and the ball goes in,” Shurna said. “It doesn’t seem to be a concern.”
On Thursday, Shurna will watch the draft with his family in their Glen Ellyn, Ill. home. His primary hope is to have his name called by any team. If it were happen to be the Chicago Bulls who took him, that would be a dream come true.
“I’ve been a Bulls fan all my life,” Shurna said. “That would be awesome. I would be happy anywhere. Putting on any NBA jersey is an honor. Being a Chicago kid, the Bulls would be very cool.
“I’m not sure what’s going to happen. I’m excited, though. It’s been an incredible opportunity. This is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Not many people get a chance to try out for the NBA. I know I’m very fortunate and blessed to be in this situation.”