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Friday, May 29, 2009

Ready to start

Former Jayhawk Rush preparing for role as starter with Indy

Former Jayhawk standout and current Indiana Pacers guard/forward Brandon Rush, pictured Thursday at 68 Inside Sports Fieldhouse in Overland Park, expects to start next season for the Pacers.

Former Jayhawk standout and current Indiana Pacers guard/forward Brandon Rush, pictured Thursday at 68 Inside Sports Fieldhouse in Overland Park, expects to start next season for the Pacers.

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— Brandon Rush dribbled the basketball through an obstacle course of orange cones, pulled up and swished his trademark jump shot from the corner.

The 6-foot-6, 210-pound Indiana Pacers guard/forward repeated the process over and over under the watchful eye of a personal trainer Thursday afternoon at 68 Inside Sports Fieldhouse.

Ex-Jayhawk Rush, former Kansas University shooting guard Billy Thomas and Roeland Park Miege High School senior standout Trevor Releford ran through drills for an hour and a half, proving Rush is highly motivated to get a head start on his second NBA season.

“I told Brandon, ‘I don’t know any kids working out three times a day. I don’t know anybody, for that matter — this time of summer — working out three times a day,’” Thomas, of the NBA Developmental League champion Colorado 14ers, said of Rush.

“I’m very impressed with his work-ethic and God-given ability.”

Rush, who was drafted No. 13 overall in the 2008 NBA Draft after leading KU to the national championship, is on a mission after hearing first-hand from Pacers’ coach Jim O’Brien that he’ll be a starter his second season in the league.

Rush averaged 8.1 points (off 42.3 percent shooting) and 3.1 rebounds while starting 19 of 75 games — and averaging 24.0 minutes per contest — for the 36-46 Pacers.

“I’m probably going to be starting. I’m going to be ready,” declared Rush, who will play in a limited number of games for the Pacers in the Orlando Summer League in July.

“He (O’Brien) told me to go home, work on stuff off the dribble and get stronger in the weight room,” the Kansas City native noted. “He said I have everything else. I’m able to shoot the ball. The main focus is for me being stronger and working on my ballhandling.”

Rush — for four days a week the past three weeks — has been putting in the time under the supervision of former NBA player Sedrick Toney. He chuckled when asked who was tougher — Toney or KU coach Bill Self.

“I’d say coach Self,” Rush said. “He can practice us as long as he wants to. Here I can say, ‘I quit. I’m done for the day.’’’

He doesn’t say that often. Rush, who turns 24 in July, knows he has to improve to thrive in the demanding NBA.

“The game is so fast,” said Rush, who in his rookie season was assigned to guard phenoms Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. “You’ve got to guard a good player like that every night.

“I’d say LeBron,” he responded, when asked who was the toughest to shadow. “He got 50 both times we played them. Dwyane is pretty tough, too. Kobe took it kind of easy on me, I guess because I’m a rookie.”

Off the court, Rush says he’s content living in Indianapolis.

“It kind of reminds me of Kansas City a little bit. It’s a small downtown, just like Kansas City and I live downtown, too. People there love it to death,” Rush said.

He hasn’t spent a whole lot of the $1,799,160 he made in salary last season.

“I’ve got two cars, a Mercedes and Escalade,” Rush said. “I don’t go crazy at all. I treat myself well and my family. I’m not a big spender.”

He remains a big fan of KU’s basketball team.

Rush followed the squad closely last season as it won the Big 12 regular-season title and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAAs a year after bagging the NCAA crown.

“They played real well. Sherron (Collins) played well; Cole (Aldrich) played well. They had good role players like the Morris twins. They reminded me a lot of our freshmen year when we struggled early and turned it on at the end. But we didn’t make the Sweet 16 like they did,” Rush said of the 2005-06 Jayhawks, who went 25-8, won the league crown but lost in the first round of the NCAAs.

“They should be real good this year,” Rush added of the 2009-10 Jayhawks. “They’ve got — what’s his name Xavier — coming in?” Rush added, admittedly having a tough time pronouncing the first name of freshman Xavier Henry.

“I’ve never seen him play, but I heard he’s real athletic. Xavier I think will be a big key for them this year.”

Rush — he said he’s been rooting hard for KU teammate Darnell Jackson’s Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs — said he’s embraced his KU ties in the pros.

“Last year, wherever I go I’d see Kansas shirts — national championship shirts,” Rush said. “I really miss it. I get back when I can to see Brady (Morningstar) and the rest of the guys. I’ll always come back there.”

He returns to Indiana next week to prepare for summer-league action. He doesn’t think he’ll be able to make it back for Self’s pair of summer camps the second and third weeks of June.

He’s got a job to do: to get ready for season No. 2.

“I could be,” Rush said, asked if he’ll be an NBA all-star. “I’ve got things to work on. People said I was a younger version of Danny (Granger, Pacers) this year. I am going to try to get better every single year and live up to what people think I can do in the league.”

He’s already proven to be an inspiration to young point guard Releford, the brother of KU’s Travis Releford.

“I’ve known him awhile. He’s gotten a lot better. He jumps way better than when he was at KU. He works hard. He’s good,” Releford gushed.

Comments

Dirk Medema 5 years, 3 months ago

Is Trevor going to play round ball or DB? I've seen where he's actually more highly thought of as a DB than a PG, tho his stock seems to be raising for round ball inspite of his less than ideal BB height.

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KEITHMILES05 5 years, 3 months ago

BRush is nothing but high quality. He has surpassed EVERYBODYS expectations as a great player and human being. I love him to death.

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jayhawkinATL 5 years, 3 months ago

I second that, KEITHMILES05. I miss the dude!!!

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Jayhawk444 5 years, 3 months ago

Nice article. I enjoy reading about the successes of former KU players (especially in the off-season when basketball news is scarce)

A comment for the kusports.com/LJW editors though. KU baseball team begins NCAA play today. Why doesn't the baseball team get the highlight spot on the home page? You imply that Brandon Rush is more important than the KU baseball team? And yesterday it was Tyshawn Taylor? The baseball team deserves better I think.

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Tony Bandle 5 years, 3 months ago

Great article...just one observation..there are no "ex-Jayhawks" if you've left Lawrence on good terms!!

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Tom Gillaspie 5 years, 3 months ago

Jayhawk444,

While it is nice to see all sports news, basketball is still king. Until the baseball team can consistently make the tourney, I don't think they are going to displace the basketball team as the top story. Case in point: how many people who use this site can name the basketball team's players, and how many can name more than a few baseball players? The football team is making great strides, maybe the baseball team will be next.
May not seem fair, but reality often works that way.

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Jaminrawk 5 years, 3 months ago

I think Brandon is going to be a force in a year or two. Once he started getting extended minutes in the second half d last year, he had several 20 point games. Like Pierce, I have always thought that Rush has a game that is great in college, but translates even better in the pros.

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Andy Hess 5 years, 3 months ago

i second that, Oakville. the only EX-Jayhawks are the ones who are either kicked off the team or transfer to another school.

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cg1029 5 years, 3 months ago

It is good to see that Brandon has learned from the mistakes of his older brothers. I remember reading the same article on K. Rush after his first year and all he did was talk about his cars and how much he spent on clothes. There was no mention of training or working for the future.

Who would have thought this when Brandon first came to KU...

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jhawk613 5 years, 3 months ago

On Trevor Releford -

I think Self and Mangino need to co-recruit this kid. Self could use a back-up PG after Sherron leaves, heck he could spend the first year learning both sports as a back-up.

Mangino needs good DBs in the spread-offense Big 12. And if he blossoms as a BBall player too, KU fans would absolutely love him.

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KUFan90 5 years, 3 months ago

Hawksboy88 - I'm sure 613 is dead serious, and I agree with him. We've had players in the past play on both teams. Trevor is a great candidate for that. I'd love to see him come to KU.

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Nick Cole 5 years, 3 months ago

He could play under a football scholarship (i.e. not taking up a bball scholarship) and if he develops into a solid bball player, everyone wins. If he ends up not panning out as a quality contributor on the court, he can ride the pine or choose to focus solely on football w/o having taken up a scholarship from the bball program, and everyone wins again. What would be the downside to that, Hawksboy88?

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Rick Arnoldy 5 years, 3 months ago

The 1988 championship team had two football players on the roster, I think. I know Clint Normore was one and I want to say Mike Maddox was the other (weren't there two Mike Maddox's but with different spelling of the last name? The roster was becoming depleted with the loss of Marshall and Branch and the call for help went out, iirc.

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Alex Wishart 5 years, 3 months ago

you might want to watch the"play on both teams" lingo.

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Rick Arnoldy 5 years, 3 months ago

Bo Jackson played football for Auburn and ran track. Deon Sanders played football, baseball, and ran track at FSU. Even when the seasons overlap, the coaches can work it out. Wasn’t there a football player in just the last couple of years who was contemplating walking on for basketball but decide against it?

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K_Easthouse 5 years, 3 months ago

If I were either coach Self or Mangino, I'd seriously question any athlete who would want to play on both teams. Both are vying for national recognition, so both require intensive off-season workouts that specifically cater to their sport. In addition, the risk of injury when competing is quite high, and few coaches would want their scholarship athletes risking injury while playing on another team.

I don't have very fond memories of players who become two-sport athletes at KU, especially football and basketball. I remember one kid a few years ago - Mario something - who ended up leaving the team after some drama.

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Rick Arnoldy 5 years, 3 months ago

Mario Kinsey - According to Google either there are a lot of him playing semi-pro b-ball or he really gets signed and cut a lot.

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Matt Bowers 5 years, 3 months ago

Brandon, my best friend lives in Indy and sends me video of you from his phone. He says the buzz around town is that you are hot stuff, I kept telling him that you were the real thing. You are right about everybody loving that town, its just Midwest pride in where you are from. Keep up the good work and I will be looking forward to more videos from my bud.

Rock Chalk

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hawksince51 5 years, 3 months ago

Remember when all the chatter was that Rush could never dribble left-handed due to having injured his left arm as a child? Seems like he has overcome that challenge. Also, surprised that Trevor thinks he jumps better now than when he was at KU. The best dunk I have ever seen in person was his freshman year at Boulder when he must have left the floor 10 feet from the bucket from the right wing and slammed it home Lebron style. I would have to see it to believe he can better that now. Great article--really loved this kid while he was at KU and have always felt he might be in Pierce's league as a pro.

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jaybate 5 years, 3 months ago

Brandon needs to get stronger?

Good lord! Brandon was a stud his senior year at KU!

I guess Lebron is changing the perimeter game in the L even more than I realized. If they want Brandon bigger and stronger, it means the L is now in the hunt for defense to catch up with these great, tall, strong perimeter players ruling the L right now.

If Brandon gets 15 pounds heavier and adds muscle, he would become the ideal new NBA defender at the 2 and 3--and have a guarantied long term pro career. First there was Rodman and Pippen. Then Artest. Now BRush. It will be good to have a good guy back at the top of the lock down game. I have always admired Artest's defense and intensity, but never like that he seemed basically a criminal in sneakers. This could really be wild to watch. Brandon locking down on one end, then launching stingers from 28 against the hamstrung superstar. This strategy has Larry Bird's finger prints all over it.

Come on, Brandon, you can do this! The last time I saw you focus in on something like this (rehabbing the knee), you won a ring. You are right to go three times a day. There is an enormous brass ring to grab. Your sense of the moment is keen. Seize it!

The lead defensivist on the greatest defensive team in the history of college basketball--The King of Kool on the KU Kool Jazz Quintent--his jersey should be hanging in the field house as soon as possible. The more time passes the more his excellence stands out. He is the man who delivered Eddie Ball/Bill Ball to the pinnacle.

BRush will one day conquer the NBA, as surely as Paul Pierce did.

KU is not only the place where great bigs have played.

It is beginning to be the place where great threes have played.

Pierce.

Rush.

Henry.

C'mon, XMan, rise to meet the challenge!

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100 5 years, 3 months ago

Brandon dominating UK will always be a good memory.

Speaking of Probation University, the Lexington Herald just reported that UK is attempting to have a "news blackout" regarding the John Calipari investigation (since the news of Rose's brother being the traveller broke & John was forced into damage control & onto ESPN today).

Not sure how UK will do this (has the cold war started again?) for at least the next week, until June 6th at the earliest, but according to the Lexington Herald Leader this is UK's plan.

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100 5 years, 3 months ago

By the way kudos to the Lexington Herald. The top 10 sports headlines are all Calipari's mistakes of his past.

Two articles rip him apart & ask President Lee Todd what in the world he was smoking when he hired Cal.

ESPN has an even more appropriate piece, calling it like it is, written by Ford. He essentially says everyone knows what Calipari is doing and now that we know who was travelling, Rose's brother (essentially used by Cal to insure getting Derrick)Calipari will now be questioned about Wall & Cousins, two guys he was recruiting at Memphis.

Also he went deep into the coverup, showing there was no way UK could have done an exhaustive NCAA investigation on Calipari before hiring him (because the NCAA couldn't legally talk about it). So UK lied there.

And Memphis's original "story" in January has already been shown to be lying about the coverup with Calipari on the travel expenses. If this holds true this should open up a real investigation into Calipari because it is his intent (I.e. Where else would Rose have gone if his brother wouldve been flown around with Derrick to all games & could stay at hotels?)

The other part which I think speaks to the core of the Calipari matter, again, is intent. It's why no one (even UK fans before they hired him) see an honest man. Ford in the espn article says, straight faced, how could Calipari NOT know what was going on with his SAT after stalking him for 3 years and taking care of his brother on the Memphis campus before Derrick was even there?

So it seems like this is going to come down to how many people will tell what really happened. If Cal tells the truth, he's in deep trouble.

From his perspective, the problem there aren't any lies he can tell (now that he's the $31 million dollar lying mediaman) which can't be proven wrong.

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jaybate 5 years, 3 months ago

100,

Essentially as you forecast, John Calipari turns out the be a Neutron Coach. Hire him. He builds a progam to critical mass with apparent recruiting violations. He leaves. The program explodes, leaving the athletic dorms and arena standing. This happened at UMass-destruction. Now it is happening at Memphisto. Will Contucky be next?

Hey, UK, if Calipari were run to avoid the death penalty, would Jim Harrick be UK's next hire?

But lest we Jayhawks get too smug...

Again, 100, I have to say that I am concerned about the Henry brothers getting dusted in this fallout. I know the violations noted so far relate to the year before CJ Henry arrived in Memphisto, but if this sort of thing were happening the year before, there would be a significant possibility that this sort of thing were going on the next year when CJ got there, and during the recruitment of Xavier, too. I recall that CJ's and Xavier's minds were changed some what surprisingly--first CJ, then awhile later Xavier--in favor of Memphisto during this period. And I also recall that very soon after Cal jumped ship for UK Memphisto's new coach made Father Henry the kind of offer that sounded very much like the kind of offer that might have been in the works for some time under Cal. And there was Carl's mysterious no show at Xavier's press conference announcing for KU. And there is now Mother Henry's move to Hertz-Lawrence.

Here's to hoping KU's recruiting has been within the rules. They seem likely to be examined at least in cursory fashion, because of all this.

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hawksince51 5 years, 3 months ago

I agree with you Ralster, but have to wonder why is Cal presumed guilty in the Derrick Rose SAT case and Self presumed innocent in the case of Arthur's alleged high school grade changing? I am not comparing the two coaches in the broader sense, but rather making the point that it would be very hard for coaches to control what a kid does, or others do for him, while in high school. Am I glad that we have Self and UK has Cal--ABSOLUTELY!!

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Milhawkee 5 years, 2 months ago

What about "Jayhawk legend" instead of "Ex-Jayhawk" for former players?

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