John Shurna, Northwestern basketball's all-time leading scorer, made his 2014 Summer League debut Friday for the Toronto Raptors, and did so in impressive fashion. Shurna scored a team-high 21 points off the bench in the Raptors’ 89-78 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Las Vegas.
Since leaving Northwestern in 2012, Shurna has played in top-tier professional leagues in France and Spain, but has not yet found his way in the NBA. After originally going undrafted, he signed a 1-year contract with the New York Knicks going into what would have been his rookie year, but was waived prior to the start of the season.
Now, Shurna has an opportunity with a Raptors team that is looking to surround star guards Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan with some outside shooters. And that makes Shurna’s performance Friday all the more noteworthy.
From a statistical standpoint, his game was highlighted by his shooting. The former Wildcat star made 5 of his 8 attempted 3-pointers, and shot 6-9 from the field. He also went 4-5 from the free throw stripe.
But his flashiest moment came in the first half when he came up with a steal, dribbled the other way, and finished with a two-handed slam at the other end. It perhaps should’ve even been a 3-point play opportunity, but whistles were silent.
Shurna spent many of his 24 minutes of floor time playing as a stretch-four. But despite seemingly being outmatched physically by some of his opponents, he more than held his own on the defensive end.
Even Reggie Miller, who was the color commentator on NBA TV’s broadcast, liked what he saw from the 24-year-old Glen Ellyn, Ill. product. “I’m loving Shurna,” Miller said during the second half. “Shurna is a catch-and-shoot type player. It doesn’t take much to get the ball out of his hands. He always has his feet set as the ball is coming to him.”
Shurna should probably still be considered on the outside looking in when it comes to this Raptors roster. But with a good week out in Vegas, and with a few more stat lines like Friday’s, he likely would put himself in contention for at least a training camp invite.
If you want to catch Shurna in action, the Raptors have two more scheduled games over the next three days. They take on the Denver Nuggets Saturday at 5 p.m. CST, and play the Dallas Mavericks on Monday, also at 5 p.m. CST. Additionally, they will have at least two more summer league games, but times and dates for those are yet to be determined.
You can watch highlights of Friday's win here.