Northwestern’s National Player of the Year darkhorse


I know that Northwestern lost to St. John’s last night, their first loss of the season.

I also know that the loss to St. John’s is especially brutal for a Northwestern team that hasn’t played anyone worth a damn this season unless you consider Georgia Tech and Creighton (without Gregory Echenique) worth a damn.

And I’m fully aware that the Wildcats could find themselves at the bottom of the Big Ten by January 6th as they open conference play at Purdue, at home for Michigan State, and then at Illinois.

With all of that in mind, I’m still willing to throw this out there: John Shurna has to be in the discussion for first team all-american and (Gasp!) National Player of the Year.

He has to be.

When you put up the numbers he has put up, it is a requirement.

Through nine games this season, Shurna is averaging 24.4 ppg, which leads the Big Ten by a wide margin. He’s shooting 62.9% from the floor, which is impressive in and of itself until you consider he is also shooting 62.5% from three, hitting 30 of his 48 attempts on the season. His effective FG% is 78%, tops in the country. His offensive rating is 135.5, good for third among players that have at least a 24% usage rate.

Whether you are using regular statistics or advanced statistics, its pretty easy to see that Shurna is having an incredible season.

Do I expect this to keep up?

Not at all.

Its ludicrous to expect a kid to perform the same way against Ohio State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff or Wisconsin and Texas Pan-American. Its just not going to happen. The schools in the Big Ten will be bigger, they will be more athletic, they will be better defensively, and they will know more about what Northwestern wants to do offensively than any team the Wildcats have played.

That said, St. John’s has some athletes. They have some size. They are a pretty good defensive team. And Shurna still torched them to the tune of 28 points on 10-17 shooting and 4-6 from three. Granted, Northwestern lost, but that was more a result of the Wildcat’s inability to stop the Johnnies in the paint than Shurna’s ability on the offensive end of the floor.

Do I think Shurna will win the National Player of the Year award?

Its doubtful, especially when guys like Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving, and Derrick Williams have played just as well, in not better. Hell, Shurna will have his work cut out for him winning the Big Ten Player of the Year award. Apparently Ohio State has some freshman named Jared Sullinger who is pretty good.

But when we talk about early favorites for the award, Shurna has played well enough that he at least deserves a mention.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.