Wildcat will get shot at U19 Team USA

Northwestern's John Shurna is one of 17 players competing for 12 spots on the USA U19 National Team trials in June. In an interview with Purple Reign, the Glen Ellyn, Ill., native talks about what it means to be invited to the national team tryout, and what he hopes to gain from the experience.

The deliberation process took one, maybe two seconds. Really, that was more than enough time to make a decision.

Northwestern basketball coach Bill Carmody called John Shurna into his office and informed Shurna, a 6-8 freshman forward, that he was invited to the 2009 U19 USA National Team trials this summer.

If, that is, Shurna wanted to play.

"I didn't have to think on that one," Shurna said between chuckles in an interview with Purple Reign Wednesday. "It's an honor to be selected to tryout for the team. I didn't have to ponder that one over."

USA Basketball announced Wednesday that Shurna will join 16 other players born on or before Jan. 1, 1990, in the quest to make the 12-player U19 national team. Tryouts will be held in Colorado Springs, Colo., from June 16-18. The final 12 players will be announced before the team's departure to New Zealand on June 25.

"It's an honor," Shurna said of his invitation. "It's going to be a lot of fun. You got to love playing against the best competition, so this will be a good test."

That it will be. Also receiving invites to the trials – which were extended by the USA Men's Basketball Junior National Team Committee – are Connecticut's Kemba Walker, Kansas' Tyshawn Taylor and Duke's Seth Curry. All told, there are 15 of the nation's best sophomores-to-be – like Shurna – and a pair of players who recently finished high school.

As a true freshman last season for NU, Shurna was fourth on the team in points and third in rebounds, averaging 7.3 and three, respectively. He had a season high of 20 and scored in double figures in eight games. Shurna had the second best field goal percentage of any regular last season at 46.6, he led the team in offensive rebounds and was second in blocks.

The Wildcats' season ended in the NIT, their first postseason tournament appearance since 1999.

Despite playing in every game last season, Shurna admits he didn't envision an opportunity to play for the national team .

"I was in a bit of a state of shock, actually," Shurna said. "I didn't know what to say."

"Absolutely it's an honor – a chance to represent the United States of America," Shurna said. "That's about as big an honor as it gets as far as basketball goes. Those are quite the names and I got to prove myself and still try to become a better player everyday."

It is a pretty select group that makes the U19 squad. The 2007 roster included Kansas State's Michael Beasley, Syracuse's Johnny Flynn and North Carolina's Deon Thompson – all of whom are in the NBA or well on their way.

"Honestly, all the guys that are invited are extremely talented players," Shurna added. "Its going to be tough. It's going to be some hard-nosed basketball, some tough competition, and I'm going to put forth my best effort, give it my all. Hopefully that's good enough."

University of Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon will be the head coach of the U19 squad, joined by assists Chris Lowery (Southern Illinois) and Matt Painter (Purdue).

Surna will wrap up his last final on June 12 before heading westward to Colorado for the June 16 start of tryouts.


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