Northwestern junior forward John Shurna enjoyed a dose of the NBA life last week.
The 2008 Glenbard West graduate was one of 20 collegians invited to Las Vegas to serve on the U.S. Select Team charged with prepping the U.S. National Team (aka, a group of NBA stars) for the FIBA World championships next month in Turkey.
Shurna and his teammates lived at the five-star Wynn Hotel -- the same place where the NBA studs stayed. “They were in nicer rooms, but I’m not complaining,” Shurna said. The college guys also were paired up (Shurna roomed with Wisconsin’s Jon Leuer) unlike the pros, but that wasn’t a problem either.
Shurna couldn’t hit the casinos because he’s just 20 years old, so he and the other young guys walked up and down the Strip, hung out in Caesar’s Palace and toured a bunch of malls. “I had a blast,” he said.
Oh, you wanted to know about the basketball?
When the Select Team arrived, national coach Mike Krzyzewski addressed the group and let them know their job was to serve as the scout team for the FIBA championships. They learned plays, then split up into two teams of 10 to scrimmage with the NBA guys. Shurna said he squared off with, among others, Kevin Love, Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Lamar Odom.
“I guess (I did) all right,” he said. “I had some good moments and I got beat a couple times.”
During one of the 10-minute scrimmages, a Select team that included Shurna, Illinois’ Mike Tisdale and Ohio State’s William Buford owned a 3-point lead late. Then Durant earned a steal and drilled a 3-pointer with four-tenths of a second to go. Buford tried to answer with a winning 3-pointer, but just missed.
“I was talking with Will afterward,” Shurna said. “We were a little upset because we had them down. It’s obviously good to tie them, but you play to win.”
Shurna returned to Evanston this weekend, which gives him one week to prepare for his summer school final exam. He’s taking Philosophy 269…otherwise known as Bioethics. He also returns to the rest of the basketball team’s three-day-a-week lifting and conditioning schedule.
I asked Shurna who’s been playing well during the unofficial practice games and he said pretty much everybody -- and indicated incoming freshman JerShon Cobb is really good going 1-on-1 and getting his own shot.
Fifth-year seniors Kevin Coble and Jeff Ryan, meanwhile, are still in the lifting and conditioning stage of their injury rehabs and not running in the full-court scrimmages.
They’re both shooting for Northwestern’s trip to Italy late next month. The Wildcats get 10 days of practice in Evanston before they go on a 10-day, four-game visit.
“I think everybody’s excited about the chance to go to Italy,” Shurna said.