So we all acknowledged the awesomeness of John Shurna prepping for next year with the US Select Team, which - gasp - balled with the US National team during their mini-camp in Las Vegas. Errbody was on top of this. There was even a story on the Dagger over at Yahoo. But now that the camp - which lasted from July 20-24 - is over, I decided to search for evidence that this actually happened.
Don't get me wrong - any experience Shurna had is unbelievably awesome. But it's kinda hard to find him in camp coverage.
Now, it's no secret that the Select Team balled against the US National team in scrimmages - we have all types of reports, photos, and videos (on the USA basketball website.) But very little evidence of John Shurna. In fact, in each of those categories, we only have one tidbit.
Lots has been made of how good Georgia's Trey Thompkins has looked, and I've seen shoutouts of players like Jacob Pullen and Dayton's Chris Wright, but, obviously, for the most part, the focus hasn't been on the select team in the scrimmages - it's been on the potential national team candidates as Coach Mike Krzyzewski looks to cut his roster down to 12. However, one site, the Hoops Report put up a post focusing on how certain players on the Select Team were looking, featuring analysis of Shurna's game:
I looked through all the photos from days 2-4 - when the scrimmages occured - and out of those 60+ photos, we only have one featuring Shurna.
I can't put the photo up here - copyright infringement, homie! - but I will describe it. If you've ever taken a basic photography class, you're familiar with the rule of thirds: that you should be able to divide a photo into three parts vertically or horizontally, because that's just how the human eye comprehends photos to be interesting. This photo does a great job of that.
Right third: Kevin Durant is awestruck by Andre Iguodala's phenomenal dunk. It looks like he's going "whoooo!"
Middle: A perfectly lit, flexing Andre Iguodala making a funny face and dunking.
Left third: John Shurna trailing, wearing a No. 80 jersey.
Not sure why Shurna is No. 80 - if you'll notice, every player, even the stars, is wearing something above No. 40, and this has been true of USA practices for several years. You may also remember photos of Shurna wearing high numbers in last year's U-19 camp. My personal theory is that this is related to having to somehow shed individuality by avoiding players fighting for numbers, and that it's a motivational tactic making players "earn their jersey" since all international players have to wear a number between 4-15. Either that, or USA Basketball just can't afford normal numbered jerseys.
The USA Basketball website also features an understandably segregated Select/Senior team group photo, with Shurna smiling besides Washington Wizards center JaVale McGee, if you've ever wondered what Shurna would look like besides JaVale McGee. (Answer: a lot like he does when not standing next to JaVale McGee.)
UPDATE: Reader John (no, not John Shurna) found this photo, of a very giddy Shurna looming in the background while less smiley teammates are saying hi to Gerald Wallace. More on this later.
This video isn't explicitly a video of Shurna, nor is it a video of people playing basketball, nor is it possible for me to embed it on my website. It's the first one on this page, a video of the US Select Team serenading Gerald Wallace with "Happy Birthday" You see how after the song is over, all the Select Team players go over to give Wallace dap.
(Note: in attempting to type that paragraph, I accidentally misspelled "Shurna" as "Sunra". I cannot think of two more different human beings than John Shurna and space jazz innovator Sun-Ra.)
Then, it comes Shurna's turn. What will happen? Will No. 80 and Wallace have a pre-prepared handshake? Will Wallace ignore Shurna's attempted love-showing due to a bitter feud between the two? Will Shurna work up the courage to talk to Wallace, then sheepishly succumb to his emotions and walk away with his tail between his legs?
The world will never know, because the cameraman pans away for the critical two-second interval in which the two interact. A moment, lost in time. Shurna-Wallace was a clash of two worlds, instead, we just see group stretching.
Note that Shurna - like basically every other player - is wearing Nike Hyperfuses. (I notice these things because of a mild obsession with the kicks game.) Adidas makes ugly, uncomfortable basketball shoes, which is why I try to ignore the fact that NU players are obligated to wear Adidas all the time.
So there you have it. That's all the evidence we have of Shurna at USA camp. This was a phenomenal opportunity for Shurna, and I'm sure he made the most of it. It's not unsurprising that somebody noted he looked a little slow - first off, the guys on the USA team make most NBA players look a step slow. Durant, Westbrook, Rondo, Gerald Wallace, Andre Iguodala - not easy stuff. Take an average defender from the Big Ten, the least springy of major conferences, used to playing zone defense, and putting him out there against the world's best seems like it could exploit his weakness in the speed department a bit. The fact that's all that there was to say about him shouldn't be worrisome, though: he's a really good player, but he's playing against the world's best, and even if there's barely any sign he was there.
Being named to the Select Team shows that someone in USA Basketball saw something that made them think that they'd be a suitable fill-in for elite competition. Although this post seemed to be joking about Shurna at times, I'm not trying to detract from his accomplishments - seriously, this was a really big thing. It's cool to see Northwestern players talked about nationally, and Shurna has gotten that accomplished.
I'm really interested to see if Shurna can build himself into a second-round NBA prospect over the next two years. Right now, his resume isn't quite where it would need to be - some tournament publicity as a junior and senior always helps.