Glenbard West grad John Shurna prepares himself for NBA opportunity with New York Knicks

Glen Ellyn, IL

John Shurna's basketball journey first took him from Glenbard West High School to Northwestern, where the forward ended his career as the Wildcats' all-time leading scorer.

Now, after going undrafted and playing for the Atlanta Hawks in the Las Vegas Summer League, Schurna has now relocated to the Big Apple after the New York Knicks signed him to a one-year partially guaranteed contract.

He currently is in New York preparing for the opening of training camp the first week of October.

What are you feeling after inking a contract with the Knicks?
It’s definitely exciting. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime; I get the chance to compete for a spot on the New York Knicks. They are a tremendous organization with great coaches and great players. It’s been wonderful. I just want to work as hard as I can, try to improve every day and soak up as much information as I can.

Going back to draft day, was there a sense of disappointment not being selected or did you know there would be other opportunities down the line?
Obviously on draft night, everyone wants to here their name called. But when that didn’t happen, you move on and continue to work hard. Fortunately, I was able to play in the summer league. I was able to play basketball and improve every day.

What was the summer league experience (five games in Las Vegas) like and did you notice a big chance from the college level?
It was a great experience. I was in Atlanta beforehand with all the guys on the team and got to meet the coaches. The opportunity to play in the NBA summer league is a tremendous opportunity and something I’m very grateful for.

I think with any time you make the transition to a higher level, I think there are some adjustments that have to be made. But at the end of the day, it is still basketball. Everyone there were tremendous players and they were there for a reason and it was a great experience playing against them.

After the summer league, was it a wait-and-see approach to what would happen next?
I was actually back at home, playing basketball every day, trying to get better. I have a great agent who works extremely hard and he was trying to find the right situation and opportunity for me.

What felt right about the Knicks opportunity?
Again, I have a tremendous agent and we both discussed what was the best opportunity. We both felt like this was a great opportunity and a great situation.

Have you met the other team members including Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Jason Kidd?
I’ve met them all. We’ve been playing, it’s been great. It is definitely a great situation. They are all great guys and that makes it a lot of fun to play with them and be around them.

Anything specific you have been working on in the offseason in terms of your individual game?
I’m just trying to improve on everything. You can never be satisfied so I’ve been working on both my strengths and weaknesses.

Is the toughest challenge ahead going to be making the team?
I’d say so. I look at it as the opportunity of a lifetime and I want to make sure that at the end of the day, I gave it my all and I competed as hard as I can. That’s all I can do.

Was it always a dream of yours to play in the NBA?
Being a Chicago kid, everyone watched the Bulls. I’ve always been a Bulls fan and a Michael Jordan fan. And obviously playing at the highest level and competing against the best players has always been a dream.

I’ve been very fortunate to have great friends and family who have been really supportive. I’ve had great people who have helped me try to reach my goals.

Had you been in New York before and what do you think about the city so far?
At Northwestern, we did play in the Garden twice. But I haven’t really had a chance to see too much. The practice facility is outside New York and I’ve really just been working in the gym. Hopefully I get a chance to see a little more; I do know they have very passionate basketball fans and they are great people.