TIREY: Brandon Rush update, UK in hunt

In case you have been living under a rock, or have been wrapped up too much in the Randolph Morris story, there is something else brewing with the UK basketball program and a recruit. And this recruit is not for 2006. He would be eligible this very upcoming season.

In case you have been living under a rock, or have been wrapped up too much in the Randolph Morris story, there is something else brewing with the UK basketball program and a recruit. And this recruit is not for 2006. He would be eligible this very upcoming season. How many times has Tubby Smith worked his magic at the eleventh hour and pulled a rabbit out of his hat? Though the odds are slim, there just might be anther rabbit hanging out there.

Brandon Rush is a 6'6", 202 pound swingman from Kansas City, Missouri. Last year, Rush attended a prep school in North Carolina called Mt. Zion Christian Academy. Rush is also the brother of current NBA Charlotte Bobcat and former Missouri player, Kareem Rush. This has been a hectic spring and summer for the younger Rush, since he put his name in the NBA draft pool, then pulled it out after a sub par performance at the Chicago NBA pre-draft camp. A decision now looms for Rush, who must choose what happens next in his basketball career.

Rush's mentor and former AAU coach is John Walker, also from Kansas City. Most of the time, to get an update on Rush, you have to go through Walker, as the two are in close contact, almost every day. Coach Walker had just spoken to Brandon when I caught up with him on Friday. "I talked with Brandon this morning and this afternoon," said Walker. "Yesterday was his birthday. Brandon is now out in California. His brother, from his days with the Lakers, still maintains a residence there, and he is there with Kareem, working out." Walker has been in Brandon's life for a long time, having coached his brother Kareem when he played AAU ball.

Walker said that Rush does not have a long list of options at this point. "College, obviously, is an option," said the coach. "He is also looking at the new NBA collective bargaining agreement to see how the NBDL would work. And pretty much, those are his options." There had been some talk of Rush just sitting a year, and working out in a prep school environment, like an IMG Academy in Florida. But Walker said that Rush felt he would receive better instruction from the NBDL.

As far as colleges go, who is on Rush's short list? Many colleges got in the race late, after he pulled his name from the draft consideration. But the list has been pared. And Kentucky makes the cut, according to Walker. "Kentucky is a school on the radar. Some schools have made just general inquiries. Some schools have gone the extra yard, as far as obtaining transcripts and finding test scores. Kentucky has been one of those schools." The appeal of Kentucky for Rush came from the fact the school lost Chuck Hayes, Kelenna Azubuike, and possibly Randolph Morris. That and the Tubby factor. "He likes the coaching staff (at UK)," said Walker. "They have made him feel very comfortable and warm."

The other schools in the running? "Right now, Illinois has remained pretty steady. UNLV has remained pretty steady. Missouri is there on the outskirts, due to his brother going there. I know his brother and Coach (Quin) Snyder have been in contact." One of the things that those two are discussing is the possibility of Kareem paying Brandon's way to attend Missouri. The Tigers may not have a scholarship available at this time. But college is definitely the direction that Brandon is leaning, if you believe Walker. "College is what he wants to do. It's something he would really like to do. And he is qualified already. He has a 2.445 on his core, and a 1030 on his SAT." All that remains now, is to see if Tubby has another midnight special up his sleeve.


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