John Shurna to explore draft options

Northwestern junior forward John Shurna has declared himself eligible for the NBA draft but will not hire an agent, the school announced on Tuesday.

Shurna, a 6-foot-8 small forward, averaged 16.6 points and 4.9 rebounds for the Wildcats this past season. He had been among the nation's scoring leaders through 10 games, averaging 23.3 points before injuring his ankle in Northwestern's final non-conference game.

"This is an exciting opportunity for John and I fully support his decision," Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said in a statement. "It's a chance for him to pursue his dream and we look forward to helping him gather information throughout the process."

ESPN NBA draft analyst Chad Ford has Shurna ranked as the 127th best prospect and 33rd best small forward in the 2011 class.

Shurna has until May 8 to withdraw his name from the draft to keep his college eligibility.

Illinois Wolves club coach Mike Mullins, who coached Shurna in high school, spoke with Shurna and his father before making their decision to enter the draft. Mullins had also assisted Demetri McCamey and Evan Turner, both former players of his, during their early-entry processes.

"It's very similar to Evan as a sophomore or last year with Demetri," Mullins said. "It's great to get an outside evaluation and see where you're at and where you need to be to fulfill your dream.

"I just think he needs to show he's healthy again. It's a vast difference. It's the nature of the business. You go onto to the next player [in the draft order] when he's dragging his leg. You have to show who you were and not where you finished at. What Shurna showed the first 10 games -- he was among the top five in scoring -- is indicative of the player he is and the NBA player he can be."

Mullins said there hadn't been any workouts scheduled as of yet, but believed Shurna would definitely have his chance before NBA general managers.

"He'll get seen," Mullins said. "He's not going to have to worry about that. John will be seen."

Mullins leaned toward Shurna returning to Northwestern next season, but he didn't rule out otherwise.

"There's always a possibility if someone is going to hand you a guaranteed multi-million dollar check, I suppose," Mullins said.

Shurna declined comment on his decision through a Northwestern spokesperson.

Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at spowers@espnchicago.com.