NBA Draft Profile: Brandon Rush
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Mount Zion (Durham, N.C.)
Shooting Guard, 6-6, 200
Strengths: First and foremost, Rush is a freakish athlete. He's a dangerous slasher who truly excels in the open court, where he can use his speed to blow past defenders and his hops to finish above the rim. His raw skills and superhuman athleticism have led to comparisons with reigning NBA dunk champion Josh Smith, though Rush isn't nearly as physically developed as Smith was coming out of high school. Rush also showed off his all-around floor game at the Roundball Classic in March, earning co-MVP honors with 21 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. His potential had many predicting last summer that he would be the best prep player in the Class of 2005.
Weaknesses: Although he had the talent to be talked about as No. 1 in the Class of '05, Rush never lived up to the hype this year. And that's the problem. The kid has an incredible upside, but questions remain about whether he'll ever fully reach his potential. And because of his athleticism and aloof personality, he sometimes looks like he's coasting. He also needs to improve his jumper and ball-handling skills if he wants to play shooting guard (his projected position) in the NBA.
The Lowdown: Rush hasn't hired an agent, and a week ago it appeared likely he would withdraw from the draft by the June 21 deadline and attend college, perhaps at Oklahoma, Missouri or Illinois. But then he had a great showing last week at the Chicago pre-draft camp and raised his stock considerably. He still isn't considered a first-round pick, but he definitely solidified his status as one of the most intriguing second-round prospects if he stays in the draft. The smart move would probably be to withdraw from the draft and prove himself in college for a couple years, at which time he could be a lottery prospect. But with questions about his academic eligibility for college, his showing in Chicago may convince him to stay in and take his chances in the second round. If he ever puts all his skills together and lives up to his potential, he'd be a steal in the second round. We'll know within the next week which path he chooses.