Associated Press

Senior Season Review: UNC Commit Shea Rush

The future Tar Heel is motivated by the way his senior season ended.

North Carolina’s ACC Tournament championship-clinching win this past weekend had added significance to 2016 UNC walk-on commitment Shea Rush.

It wasn’t just another chance to watch his future teammates get revenge on a team that beat them earlier in the season. It wasn’t just a chance to see his future coach – hat on backwards – smiling, excited and victorious.

It was a sorely-needed reminder that basketball can still be fun.

Hours before, Rush and Kansas City (Mo.) The Barstow School lost in the Missouri Class 3 state championship game in excruciating fashion. Down by two with only two seconds remaining, Rush missed two free-throw attempts and a put-back as time expired.

North Carolina’s win and encouragement from friends and family have helped Rush begin to move on.

“(When our game was over) I got on the bus, came home, showered and turned (the UNC game) on,” said Rush. “I always get excited when they win, especially against Virginia, who is a high-caliber team.”

“My friends and family have told me to keep my head up and don’t worry about it,” Rush explained. “I can’t thank them and the Barstow community enough. It’s been really tough. That was the moment every kid dreams of and I’ve run through that moment probably 1,000 times.”

Rush knows the success he’s had at Barstow can’t be measured by the result of one game. Over the course of the season – where he averaged 17.1 points (62% FG), 8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.7 blocks – he improved in two key areas.

“I wanted to become more aggressive and more physical,” he said. “I averaged four more rebounds this year just by really sticking my nose in there and being stronger. That also made a difference down low. Offensively, it was about me staying alert, active and having energy.”

“We had four seniors and a junior on our roster, and we won the state championship last season, so this season was kind of a culmination of a four-year run,” Rush said. “Our defense was phenomenal throughout the entire season and we were holding teams below 50 points.”

With his high school season and career over, the next stop for Rush is Chapel Hill.

“I was just talking with my dad about this; a new season has already begun,” he said. “I’m back in the gym because, after the way our season ended this year, there’s nothing more motivating. I need to work on my shot, perfect my form and then do a lot of lifting.”

In between workouts and finishing out his senior year, Rush hopes to watch Carolina play six more times.

“I think Coach Williams said it best, ‘His best defensive teams always do best in the tournament,’” Rush said. “If they have high energy and are getting stops, I think they’re going to go far, really far.”

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