John Shurna is a 28 year old 204cm forwardfrom Chicago that is playing his seventh professional season and second with MoraBancAndorra(ACB). Last season with MoraBanc Andorra(ACB) he played 35 gamesaveraging 6.7ppg, 3.1rpg,FGP: 53.2%, 3PT: 38.3%, FT: 70.7%, and played 10 Eurocup games averaging 6.9ppg, 2.6rpg,FGP: 56.3%, 3PT: 31.4%, FT: 81.8%. He has garnered experience in countries likeFrance, Spain, Turkey, and Croatia with teams like Strasbourg IG (France-ProA), FIATCJoventut Badalona(ACB), Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul (Turkey-TB), ValenciaBasket (Spain-Liga Endesa), and KK Cedevita Zagreb (Croatia-A1). He began hiscareer with Northwestern (NCAA) in 2008 playing 128 NCAA games over a spanof four years. As a senior he played 31 games averaging 19.8ppg, 5.2rpg, 2.7apg, 1.2spg, 1.6bpg,FGP: 49.6%, 3PT: 42.9%, FT: 75.4%. He spoke to germanhoops.com about hisbasketball career before the Eurocup game in Ulm, Germany.
John thanks for talking to germanhoops.com Welcome back to Germany. You are back in Ulm. Three seasons ago you swept them.What memories do you have of those games?
Ulm always have really talented teams that like to play physical andthe atmosphere in their gym is always really good. My highlight was winningwith a buzzer beater in Ulm and I also remember winning a big game in Valencia.
You have a lifetime record of 6-1 against German teams. What do you feel has been your secret for having this nice success rate?
I have been very fortunate to have been on very talented teams and played with great teammates.
Your playing your second season with MoraBanc Andorra. The team has been kind of in the middle of the pack in both competitions. How much potential does the team have and what is it´s biggest strength?
I feel that we have a lot of potential in both competitions. Every game is tough and you need to bring your best effort each night. I think that we have a lot of potential in being able to continue to improve. It will be a good challenge and I hope that we can step up to the challenge.
Let´s talk about your teammates. Have you noticed Dylan Ennis having a chip on his shoulder? His never ending hard work seems to have been paying off as he belongs to the top scorers in the ACB?
He is obviously very talented. He is a very talented scorer. He has helped us out in a lot of games this season. He is a very important piece for us. I think a big help for his game is that he plays to his strength and takes what the defense gives him.
How challenging is it training with up and coming forward Reggie Upshaw? What do you appreciate most about his game?
Reggie isalso very talented. He brings a lot of energy to the court every night and cando a little bit of everything. We push each other very hard each day and bringout the best of each other on the court.
Let´s talk a little about your game. You’re a 204cm forward that can do it all. Would it be fair to classify you as a modern forward? What is your biggest strength?
That is a fair assessment of my game. My biggest strength is my shooting and that helps to open the floor for my teammates. I have been fortunate to have played with really good teammates my whole career that have been able to find me and let me shoot the ball.
If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would best fit the description how you play?
Off the top of my head I have never really thought about it. I am a stretch four and have a role as a shooter that has continued to grow over the last years.
You are a modern forward that has a very versatile game, but what is a hidden strength in your game that you feel doesn´t always get recognized right away as something you do well?
I think it´s the little things. I try to make the team better
Last season you played with talented American David Walker who played at Northeastern. What memories do you have of his play and does he have Euroleague material?
Yes he does. He is a very talented player and outstanding athlete. He has continued to grow each season. He did start with an injury this season, but he looked really good in the last game. As he continues to improve, the sky is the limit for him.
In the 2016-2017 season you balled with KK Cedevita Zagreb (Croatia-A1). After coming form the ACB, how do you feel did your game grow playing in Croatia where you once again played a different style of basketball?
The basketball was different in Croatia. I was really excited toplay there coming from Spain and have nothing but fond memories from there.Once again it helped being around great teammates again which helped us toreach success there as well.
Did you ever think coming out from Northwestern in 2012 that you would have played with so many top teams in Europe and so many top players year in and year out as teammates and opponents?
I could not have predicted that when I came out of Northwestern. I have been really fortunate that I had success in the last years. I have to credit the success year in and year out not only to the talent we had on the court, but the personalities of my teammates. I look back at the memories and friendships most fondly.
In the 2015-2016 season you played with Valencia Basket. How challenging and fun was it working together with a front court like Justin Hamilton, Luke Sikma and Bojan Dubljevic? The competition must been very intense?
It was a great experience being teammates and battling against them each day. One guy played in the NBA and is China now. The other was a finals MVP in Spain and the other is the reigning BBL MVP. There was very much talent on the court with them. They were so competitive and we pushed each other so much to have success. When I look back, I´m more grateful to having these friendships with these guys than anything else.
As a rookie you led the France Pro A in three point shooting and in Turkey shot an exceptional 48% from downtown. Which NBA player did you always look up most to in terms to their shooting when you were a kid and which shooter do you respect now?
I grew up in Chicago and was a huge Bulls and Jordan fan. Everybody looked up to Jordan. With today´s shooters, I look up the most to Klay Thompson. I was his teammate with the U-19 national team. There are so many great shooters nowadays. You can start the conversation with Steph Curry or if you want to go full circle you can talk about Dirk Nowitzki who changed the game with his shooting.
What memories do you have of American Taylor Brown who played with you at Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul (Turkey-TBL). He had played in the third German league just 2 years earlier. What impressed you most about his game when you were teammates?
Taylor is a great scorer. He is a great athlete and so dangerous in the open court. What I really liked about his game is that he is able to find many different ways to score. He has a cool story. He is a perfect example of never giving up and where hard work can bring you. He has shown his perseverance and determination.
In your second season you played for FIATC Joventut Badalona (Spain-Liga Endesa). Was there a big adjustment coming from the French league to Spain that you encountered?
It was an adjustment coming from the physical French league to themore up and down Spanish ACB. It was my second season in Europe, so It was allstill an adjustment to playing overseas. I was fortunate once again being ableto play with a good group of guys. It was also nice playing with experiencedguys, but also young players. Badalona has always been known for bringing uptalented young players.
What was your favorite place to hang out in Barcelona in your second season with FIATC Joventut Badalona?
Barcelona is a great city. There is something there for everyone. You have the beach, you can go to the fountain and I liked hanging around the Olympic stadium. I also enjoyed La Rambla and going to the Gothic area and getting lost in the side streets. You can be at the beach and then with a short car ride at Montserrat. There is always sunshine there and all are happy when the sun is out.
Did Luke Sikma tell any fascinating stories about his dad and the good old days in the NBA?
I´m sure that Luke shared some stories. It was most fun when his dad was there and visited. It was a lot of fun to spend time with his dad. He is a great guy. It was cool seeing his dad who had so much success in the NBA come to visit to see Luke play and see him so happy with his success. He was a real proud dad. His dad was just a normal western guy cheering on his son.
As a rookie you played for SIG Strasburg. What was your wake up call to being a professional where you knew that you were very far away from home?
My wake up call was simply that everything was so new for me. Difficult was the changing of roles going from college to the pro ranks. The whole experience was a real eye opener. I had great teammates and they were a big help making me the player that I am today. Guys like the Greer brothers and Lou Campbell were really important for my rookie season. I still have contact to them today. Lou Campbell is the best example how to be a professional on and off the court.
How much of an impact did head coach Vincent Collet make on you as a rookie? He has had much success as France national team coach and has really made Strasburg into a top team in the last 5 years?
Coach Collet introduced me to the European game. I was very fortunate to have had him as a coach in my first year. He was quite the tactician. It was an adjustment at first, but he was really helpful teaching me the European game. He wanted the best for you, but at the same also expected the best from you. He was always very focused in his coaching. His coaching record speaks for it´s self. He has had a big impact on French basketball.
You played at Northwestern from 2008-2012. How did head coach Bill Carmody prepare and groom you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach Caramody played a huge role in my success in school and alsothere after. Running a Princeton offense at Northwestern was very important formy development as you had to know how to read the game and just do a little bitof everything. He has made me the player I am today. The whole coaching staffthere helped every player grow as a player and person.
You played together with Michael juice Thompson for three years who has established himself as a top guard in France. What are your fondest memories with him on and off the court?
Juice is one of my good friends. I only have good memories with him on and off the court. He always worked so hard. With his size, he was always viewed as an underdog so he played with a huge chip on his shoulder. He has had success everywhere he has played. It was great playing with him for three years and he really helped me grow as a player. He expected a lot from his teammates and his hard work he put in each day made us work harder.
You have played NBA Summer league 4 years in a row. You have played against many players in the last four years. What vivid memory do you have of playing against a player that later made it to the NBA that might have been off the radar a bit during the NBA Summer League?
I can´t really pick a player. There are always many talented guys playing there. It was a great experience for me each summer. Every guy is so competitive and everyone wants to play at the highest level. It was a lot different style than the NBA or overseas. There were usually always young players and I enjoyed testing my skills against them.
If you had to list your starting five of all-time best teammates which five would you pick?
That´s a tough question. I had too many great one´s.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA right n
Draymond Green. He brought out the best in me.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Lebron James.
Lebron James failed to win his fourth NBA title and is still three away from Michael Jordan. Where does Lebron stand right now in your opinion in the never-ending debate of who is the best of all-time?
I would pick Jordan because of the impact hemade. Obviously I´m biased coming from Chicago. Both guys elevated the game toa new level. He won 6 titles and lost no finals. When the game was on the line,you knew who the ball was coming to and more times than not he would succeed.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks John for the chat.