The season is over, but Michael Thompson is still very present at Welsh-Ryan Arena. While finishing up school, Thompson is training at the Northwestern basketball facilities as he works to play professionally. Still, he remains good friends with (now former) teammate John Shurna, and the Wildcats’ two leading scorers from 2010-11 now train together.
Recently, Shurna and Thompson have given each other support. Juice is working to play professionally, and the senior-to-be Shurna talked with his Thompson about the idea. When Shurna made his announcement official on Tuesday morning, Thompson backed his friend’s big decision.
“I think it’s a good decision for him,” Thompson said. “He’s had three really good years here at Northwestern. Playing for the USA team gave him some good exposure against NBA guys. Knowing him on and off the court, I know he’ll be a good player in the NBA. If he doesn’t go this year, I know he’ll go next year.”
Shurna is not planning on hiring an agent, which leaves the door open for him to return for his senior season at Northwestern. However, Shurna did ask questions about hiring an agent with Thompson, who recently hired his own representation. After giving it some thought and talking with Thompson, Shurna opted not to hire an agent, making it possible for him to return next season.
Recent mock drafts have not been favorable for John Shurna, but Thompson believes that shouldn’t stop his former teammate from following his dream of playing in the NBA. Even if that doesn’t happen, he can still return to the Wildcats.
“It’s been his dream to play in the NBA,” said Thompson. “Looking at the mock drafts, it’s looking like he’s not going to get drafted. With his skill set and worth ethic, he could come back and get better at school.”
After a promising start to his junior season, Shurna suffered through a high ankle sprain, and his numbers declined. With his ankle healing, Shurna suffered a concussion in January, which snapped his streak of starting 75-consecutive games.
Despite the injuries, Shurna averaged 16.6 points per game, but that was slightly down from his 18.2 points per game as a sophomore. However, Shurna did improve his three-point field goal percentage as a junior, hitting 43.4% of his shots from beyond the arc as a junior—a 7.9% jump from his sophomore season.
By testing the waters of the NBA Draft, Thompson believes Shurna is gaining experience for the future if he does not get drafted. If Shurna has second-thoughts about the decision, he has till May 8th to withdraw his name from consideration.
As Shurna and Thompson work for the next level, they’ve helped push each other to improve their game by working out together and playing pick-up games. In addition, the games are helping Shurna and Thompson fine-tune their game. Shurna feels his weakness is covering smaller players, while Thompson feels he struggles with covering taller players.
As the two push each other on the court, they’re always helping each other off the court while continuing their strong friendship.
“Even when we’re working out, he’s talking trash,” Thompson said of Shurna. “He’s asking me stuff and I’m asking him stuff. We’re good friends, and always giving each other advice.”