Offseason Basketball Stuff: Alex Marcotullio on British Preliminary Olympic Squad, John Shurna not at Portsmouth

(turns to camera, says a snappy one-liner about student government)

Some confusing news, but news nonetheless in this desert, regarding Northwestern basketball.

First, the fun stuff: Great Britain announced their preliminary roster for their 2012 Olympic basketball team, and Alex Marcotullio made the cut. Great Britain automatically qualifies for the tourney, and Alex Marcotullio is one of their 21 best players. The group will be cut to 16 in May and a final 12 in July, and Marcotullio has a chance to make the roster. There might be other NU alums in the Olympics - is Matt Grevers still good at swimming? - but it would be especially cool to have one we all already know from a team we actively pay attention to.

Britain's team will be comparatively stacked to your expectation of Britain's basketball prowess - Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, and thanks to the same silly rules that allow Marcotullio to play for Britain, Byron Mullens, who we remember as Ohio State's B.J. Mullens, will be on the team, along with fringe NBA-ers Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Joel Freeland. So what you're probably thinking is, how does a guy who comes off the bench for Northwestern start for a team with two NBA All-Stars? However, the UK be somewhat weak at guard after Gordon - I didn't fully inspect the potential guards on the roster, but I'm pretty sure it's down to Gordon, Marco, John Cleese (who at 6-foot-5 is probably best suited as a 3), Sporty Spice, and Nicki Minaj's weird British alter ego that everybody hates. I asked Mark Deeks, who runs the most detailed NBA website on the internet as well as being hands-down the world's most prominent British NBA twitter user, if he thought Marco had a shot:

So that's that - best of luck to Marco, hope to see him in London. Crumpets all around.

In other somehow weirder news, Phil Rossman-Reich from LTP reports that John Shurna will not be playing at the pre-draft Portsmouth Invitational Tournament later this week, having declined the invite and withdrawn from the tournament. To this, I ask: WHY? Portsmouth, in case you didn't know, is a showcase for fringe-ish NBA prospects to make their case for why they should be drafted in a loose team environment. Yes, it's glorified pickup games, and yes, the prestige of the tournament has really, really fallen by the wayside - case in point, Shurna declining an invite - but he really needs to be there. Shurna is a really good scorer, and this is an opportunity to show that skill against relatively good players. But most importantly, he needs to get his name out there as a fringe NBA prospect. There are a lot of guys who are similarly appealing to NBA teams, and if Shurna wants to get picked - or earn a D-League spot, or get a nice deal in Europe - he needs to stand out. Instead, he's sitting out. However, in the most Northwestern basketball news of all time, he has endorsed a candidate in the ASG elections, so that's that. (Seriously, Shurna nailing a jumper, turning to the camera, and then delivering pre-written quotes about a student election? Gold.) Perhaps Shurna's endorsement will sway one of the 32 people who actually votes in student elections.

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