|DraftExpress: This lineup Marc Jackson is using: Ish Smith, Klay Thompson, Brandon Rush, Dorell Wright, Ekpe Udoh- is the ballsiest I've seen all day. Wow|
|Top 25s - Full List|
H: 6' 6"|
W: 211 lbs
(29 Years Old)
|RSCI: 24||Agent: Mark Bartelstein |
High School: Mount Zion
Hometown: Kansas City, MO
Pick 13 in 2008 by Trailblazers
Best Case: Eddie Jones
Worst Case: Kelenna Azubuike
|Year||Source||Height w/o Shoes||Height w/shoes||Weight||Wingspan||Standing Reach||Body Fat||No Step Vert||Max Vert|
|2005||NBA Pre-Draft Camp||6' 5"||6' 6.5"||211||6' 11.25"||8' 8.5"||NA||32.5||35.0|
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Cross-Country Workout Swing, Part 5, A.T.T.A.C.K. Athletics, Chicago|
May 25, 2008
Rush has spent some time working on his body since the season ended, that much is evident. His upper body looks quite a bit more toned these days, although his lower body still needs some work. His wingspan is fantastic, likely somewhere in the 7-foot range, and he really knows how to use it to its fullest to get his shot off with his high release point.
Rush’s strength and size makes shooting from behind the NBA 3-point line a piece of cake in this setting. He looked effortless knocking down shot after shot, and only needed a glimpse of daylight to spot up while being defended in a fairly competitive pickup game by Bobby Simmons. He also defended him extremely well on the other side of the ball, using his length and height to contest his shots effectively, and not being afraid to fight back when the much stronger veteran took him down to the paint and posted him up.
In terms of weaknesses, Rush’s ball-handling skills are clearly a work in progress—the ball slows him down and he struggles a bit to beat guys off the dribble. The obvious lack of aggression he showed at times offensively at Kansas wasn’t something you could really measure in this type of setting. Still, teams are going to like the things that he brings to the table—size, athleticism, length, perimeter shooting, and excellent defensive ability—the combination of which is pretty hard to find in an NBA swingman, and could make him a very safe pick starting in the late lottery. There were rumblings here in Chicago that Phoenix in particular at #15 has taken a liking to him.
Less than a year removed from the ACL surgery that forced him to return to Kansas last season and indirectly helped him win a national championship, Rush’s athleticism is slowly returning to the level it was prior to his injury. It wouldn’t be surprising if he looked a lot more explosive in his rookie season than he did in his final year in college, ala Carl Landry, as it often takes up to 18 months to fully recover from the surgery (which many players now return much stronger from.)
Thoughts from Procopio: “Brandon Rush is one of the top wing players in the draft. No one plays off the ball better than him. He brings a lot of things to the table, starting with his very good size, which allow him to play either the 2 or the 3. He is long, athletic, and has a great basketball IQ. He can already make shots from deep. You can run him off pick and roll plays, pin downs, and he’s great in transition.
He reminds me of Caron Butler. He has the ability to handle the ball, spot-up and make deep shots, and defend. He can do so much. The sky is the limit for him. I think in time, he develop into a team’s second or third best player. He can be a top 50 player in this league without question, because he can do so much, and he’s so athletically gifted. At that position you need, length, speed, size, and skills-- and he has all that. Some of the 2’s in this draft are very limited, very undersized. This kid can do a lot of things. He’s been going full speed since he got here. He has a lot of upside. He’s a guy you have to discuss from 5 on. You can put him in the same breath as Gallinari, Eric Gordon. He needs to learn some things, but I really like Brandon Rush, I’m a big fan. Whether we trained him or not.”
[Read Full Article]
Blogging through Championship Week (Part Five)
March 18, 2008
Slowly, but surely, Brandon Rush seems to be working himself back into optimal shape, after taking off only 5 ½ months to recover from an ACL tear he suffered last summer. We’re starting to see that same terrific athlete flying up and down the court on a more consistent basis, and just at the right time as far as Kansas is concerned.
Rush strung together two impressive performances to help the Jayhawks win their third straight Big 12 conference tournament (netting himself MVP honors in the process), after one mediocre game to kick things off against Nebraska. He scored a career-high 28 points (9-13 FG, 5-8 3P) against Texas A&M in the semis, and then followed that up with 19 points (6-12 FG, 6-9 3P) in the finals against Texas, adding 6 assists for good measure.
Gone seemed to be that indecisiveness that plagued him throughout his college career, as he showed absolutely no hesitation hoisting up shots with his quick, fluid, effortless release as soon as he received an opportunity to do so. He was superb coming off screens, being very difficult to keep up with due to the speed in which he runs around the court, and looked just as smooth pulling up off the dribble out to 20 feet. It’s reaching the point that we might need to start considering him as one of the best perimeter shooters in the country—as his 43.4% on nearly 5 attempts per game from behind the arc indeed indicates.
He’s still not much of a shot-creator—his ball-handling skills are poor, he struggles to change directions due to his high center of gravity, and he seems to lack some aggressiveness going up strong at the rim trying to draw contact. Considering the fact that he’s a likely role-player at the next level—with the unselfish passing skills and team-oriented mentality that comes along with that, that might not be as great a concern as it once was.
Defensively, Rush has superb size and length on the wing, which helps him greatly in terms of contesting shots and coming up with plenty of blocks and steals in the process. He seems to have lost a degree of intensity, though, from what we could see in this tournament, not fighting through screens very well and getting beat too often off the dribble by smaller players. We’ll have to see how this part of his game looks in the NCAA tournament.
Barring a catastrophe, Rush will certainly be coming out this year and will not have the luxury of testing the waters after already doing so last year. His performance this past weekend in front of a horde of NBA executives bodes very well for his draft stock, and he has a real chance to continue to help himself with a strong NCAA tournament run.
[Read Full Article]
NCAA Weekly Performers, 2/26/08-- Part One
February 27, 2008
After an unfortunate ACL tear forced Brandon Rush to withdraw his name from the NBA draft this past summer, Rush was left with no option other than to come back to school. He’s now back at Kansas, doing much of the same he did his first two years in college. Playing much of the season with a large brace on his knee, Rush took some time getting back up to game speed, and has improved as the season has gone on, posting better numbers in conference play, to the tune of 13.6 points and 6.6 rebounds on 45% from the field and 43% from three, slightly better than his overall yearly numbers. The knee injury may have taken away some vertical explosiveness, and Rush does look a half-step slower laterally on the defensive end, but for the most part, his recovery has been strong, as he’s retained most of his athleticism in the few months since he’s started playing basketball again.
As mentioned above, it’s much of the same from Brandon Rush this season, as his production has mostly remained stagnant in his three years at Kansas. There are some subtle differences with his game, though, most notably how his control of his dribble has improved to the point where he looks very comfortable in space and going to the rim on straight-line drives. He keeps the ball close to him and low to the ground, and he’s only turning the ball over 1.6 times per game this season. Rush doesn’t possess many advanced dribble moves, but it’s not necessary for him to get past his man, as he does that fine with his very quick first step and long strides with the ball.
Once he takes the ball into the lane, though, Rush gets into trouble, as he really lacks creativity and finishing moves in traffic, and this season he’s mostly just resorted to throwing up right-handed floaters and high lay-ups off the glass, which he doesn’t have consistent success with. With his length, athleticism, and body control, Rush doesn’t even need complex series’ of moves to get the job done; a simple hop-step in combination with his physical tools would be enough to get by defenders in many cases, but you’ll rarely see him utilize such a move. Rush’s inability to take the ball all the way to the basket in traffic is a concern, and it could be attributed to multiple things, ranging from his injury, to not being very tough, to just not having the moves in his repertoire to get there.
Looking at the rest of his offensive game, it’s clear that Rush’s greatest strength is his jump shot, which has very good form, boasting a high and extremely quick release, which he shows great confidence in. When he’s catching and shooting, Rush is extremely accurate with the ball, and he doesn’t need much space to get off his shot. His high and quick release in combination with his controlled dribble also allows him to pull-up off the bounce well, not needing much separation to get off his shot. Rush’s accuracy goes down noticeably when shooting on the move, though, as he doesn’t always have the greatest balance and struggles with his accuracy when his feet aren’t set. In his three years at Kansas, Rush has consistently increased his three-point attempts per game, turning into more of an outside shooter and less of a slasher, which has predictably caused his field goal percentages to drop every single season.
Without the ball, Rush does a good job of getting open, showing a good understanding of floor spacing, often getting open from behind the arc with a good passing angle for his teammate to get him the ball. Rush also does a good job getting ahead in transition, where he finishes well, though has looked hesitant to dunk the ball at times this season. In terms of passing the ball, Rush reads the floor well and is an unselfish player, to a fault at times, finding open teammates cutting to the basket, and doing an especially good job in pick-and-rolls.
On the defensive end, Rush uses his length and hands well in man-to-man defense, picking at the ball and contesting shots from the perimeter or at the rim. Laterally, he doesn’t seem to be moving as well this season, but still does a pretty good job staying in front of his man, and has the length to recover from behind when he gets beat. He’s also shown some trouble chasing through screens off the ball, though not anymore than your average college draft prospect.
Rush will likely enter the draft this season, where he should once again be in first round discussions, even though he hasn’t met the expectations many had for him over the past few years. While his production hasn’t improved in college, and he seems to lack aggressiveness at times on the court, he still has some NBA skills and NBA physical tools, along with the makings of a solid role player, even if he never quite takes his game to the next level.
[Read Full Article]
Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big 12 (Part One: #1-#5)
October 8, 2007
If not for a torn ACL, we would probably be talking about Brandon Rush getting set for his rookie season in the NBA. Instead, the talk these days in Lawrence centers around when the star junior will be ready to step back on the court. Rush’s numbers last season were nearly identical to those from his freshman campaign, although he saw his shooting percentage from the floor and beyond the arc drop. Despite this though, there is still plenty to expect from Rush this season.
Measuring out at just a hair under 6’7” at the NBA pre-draft camp two years ago, Rush has good size for a swingman. He also has a tremendous wingspan, which helps him on both ends of the floor. The most devastating part of Rush’s game though is his athleticism. He has a nice first step and very good leaping ability, allowing him to finish extremely well around the basket. Rush would benefit greatly, especially on the defensive end, if he got stronger and added some weight. At just 210 pounds he is a very long, thin player and often gets bodied up by bigger and stronger perimeter players.
Offense, Rush is first and foremost an excellent shooter. He has a very quick release on his shot and is deadly from beyond the arc. In his two seasons at Kansas, Rush has shot 44.6% from three point range. He is a great catch and shoot player but is also capable of making shots off the dribble—even though his percentages drop in the process. Rush’s quickness allows him to beat defenders off the dribble as well, but he doesn’t have the ball-handling skills (particularly with his left hand) to consistently create his own shot. Taking advantage of unbalanced defenses, mostly in a straight line to the basket, Rush likes to go to the one handed running lay up when he can get it off. He has a very soft touch, making this an effective shot for him. He is very dangerous once he gets into the paint because of his tremendous body control. Rush not only can elevate over defenders, but has the ability to shoot around and under them when necessary.
In transition, Rush is an asset. He has great open floor speed, and has a real knack for knowing when to leak out on the break when his team comes down with the defensive rebound. Rush’s explosiveness and ability to change speeds on a dime make him so tough to cover because he is just as likely to go to the basket for a dunk as he is to stop and knock down the mid-range jumper. Rush does need to work on his decision making skills a little bit in transition. A lot of his turnovers come from the fact that he often won’t give up the basketball when he makes up his mind that he is going to score—as he does not have the ball-handling skills to get too fancy avoiding defenders.
Defensively, Rush has made some huge strides over the last two seasons. He is a gifted athlete, so there is great potential for him to be a disruptive force with his length and speed. He is tough to shoot over on the perimeter and does a fairly good job closing out on shooters, but could do a better job fighting through screens. His effort level has improved dramatically under coach Bill Self, to the point that he is considered one of the best defenders in the Big 12 currently, and probably did a better job against Kevin Durant last year than anyone all else. He also led Kansas in rebounding last season, averaging just under six per game.
This could be the season that we finally see Rush make the jump from great player to All-American. The ability is there, now he needs a little consistency and more assertiveness; Rush went through a bit of a dry spell scoring wise towards the end of last season. He has the tendency to get passive at times, often going preferring to just settle into the flow of the offense rather than making his asserting himself on the game. Kansas is loaded with talent, but Rush should still be the focal point of the offensive attack this year—even if at times he needs to be reminded of that. Athletically he is up there with just about any player in the country, so if his recovery from knee surgery goes well, and he begins to diversify his game a bit more, we could hear Rush’s name called fairly early come draft day.
[Read Full Article]
NCAA Tournament: NBA Draft Stock Watch (Elite Eight, Saturday games)
March 24, 2007
A very solid NCAA tournament for Brandon Rush came to an end with a disappointing loss to UCLA in the Elite Eight. Despite not being able to help his team make the Final Four, Rush was the best player on the floor for Kansas and really the only guy that was willing to step up and take responsibility for them on the offensive end.
Rush started off the game aggressively, and continued to play that way for the entire evening. He put the ball on the floor with both his right and significantly weaker left hand, getting into the paint on numerous occasions but not quite being able to finish on many of his floaters. He would clearly be well served working on finishing stronger and drawing contact better at the rim, but many of his attempts at the basket unluckily rolled out for him. With his length and athleticism that shouldn’t be too much of an issue for him in the future, what’s significant here is that he’s making a conceited effort to take defenses off the dribble, which was one of the biggest question marks about his game going into this season, along with his lack of aggressiveness. His ball-handling skills are still not NBA shooting guard caliber, but they’ve obviously improved, particularly his crossover dribble.
Rush also did a good job defensively in this game, challenging shots thanks to his length and quickness, but ran into an incredible night from Arron Afflalo who just would not miss, particularly in the second half. It’s fairly clear that Rush is a much more complete player than he was two years ago. He was more than willing to help out on the glass as well, as he has been all year long.
In terms of his perimeter shooting, widely considered his strong-point, Rush hit 2 of his 3 attempts, finishing off the tournament a scintillating 82% (9/11) from behind the arc in 4 games.
All in all, Rush helped himself with the way he played in March, especially with the potential he showed to improve on his weak-points, as well as with his willingness to be a go-to guy for his team. It’s not all that common to find a long and athletic swingman who plays strong defense and knocks down open shots, and it’s pretty clear that he has the upside to develop into much more than that considering how much he’s improved over the past two seasons.
[Read Full Article]
NCAA Tournament: Stock Watch (Sweet 16, Thursday games)--Stock Up
March 23, 2007
When Kansas was desperately looking for someone to go to late in their narrow victory over Southern Illinois, there was only one player who was willing to step up: Brandon Rush. Despite the fact that he only took six shots throughout the entire game, Rush made his presence felt every time he had the ball in his hands, and even when he didn’t, on the defensive end in particular.
Offensively, there was little more that you could have asked for out of Rush given the circumstances. He did not force a single shot, showed improved decision making skills, and constantly penetrated the heart of the defense every time he had the ball. It would have been nice to see this sense of urgency more during the course of the season, given his ability to do seemingly whatever he pleased when he put his mind to it. You’d think that some kind of tactical change must have been put in place as of late, given the fact that Rush has only taken 21 shots in three games and did not attempt even a single three pointer versus Southern Illinois, despite the fact that he shot 42% from beyond the arc on the season.
This season has seen a vast improvement in Rush’s ability to put the ball on the floor, consistently hit the midrange jumper, and find the open man as the year has progressed. He is averaging 4 assists per game in the NCAA tourney, with the large majority coming directly off drive and dish plays. He had a marvelous alley-oop to freshman big Darrell Arthur in the second half, while exhibiting his super soft touch throughout the entire game on a few silky smooth midrange jumpers, including a particularly clutch one late in the game.
It was awfully pleasing to see Rush finally utilize his immense physical abilities on the defensive end and exert near-maximum effort when out on the court. It is clear to absolutely any basketball observer that he can be a lockdown defender whenever he chooses, given his excellent quickness, size (6’6 ½) and length (6’10 ¼ wingspan). He constantly gave whomever he was guarding fits, always staying in front of them and contesting every single pass that they threw with his massive wingspan. Scouts and fans alike have been able to see the incredible potential that Brandon has as a defender, which he will hopefully continue to fulfill as the dance goes on.
Throughout Kansas’ narrow defeat of the Salukis, the main weakness that we saw with Rush was his still shaky ball-handling skills, exemplified by a huge turnover late in the game. Luckily for the Jayhawks however, Bryan Mullins was not able to make his breakaway layup, nor was Randall Falkner able to convert the subsequent offensive rebound, or we could very well be filling out Southern Illinois in the Elite Eight of our brackets at the moment. He still dribbles the ball a bit high and carelessly, allowing smaller defenders to get in there and poke the ball out with a simple swipe. The majority of his 4 turnovers were a direct result of his subpar ball-handling skills, which have been criticized since his days as a star on the prep level.
Rush’s age (he will be 22 in July) may turn out to be a leading factor in his early exit from KU to the NBA this spring. His strong tournament play individually, in combination with the Jayhawks success might just give him enough confidence to keep his name in the draft this season for good. While he is currently projected by most as a mid to late first rounder, Rush could certainly see himself shoot up the draft boards all the way into the late lottery given this draft’s lack of a marquee wing player, if he is able to continue his outstanding postseason play and lead Kansas to the Final Four.
[Read Full Article]
NCAA Tournament: Stock Watch (round of 32, Sunday games)--Stock Up
March 19, 2007
Brandon Rush did an excellent job knocking down three pointers for Kansas in their easy victory over Kentucky, doing a good job playing a complementary role for his team. All six of his three pointers on the game were of the spot-up variety, but one came in transition at high speed and about half of them were from NBA distance. His shooting stroke is effortless and smooth with a quick release to boot, and he did a good job drifting to open space and waiting for the ball to get to him so he could do what he does best.
You could frown on Rush for his one-dimensional performance and question why the rest of his box score looks so empty, but it’s tough to take issue when his team won the game easily and he hit a remarkable six of seven three-point attempts. It’s not that he didn’t try to do anything else in the game, as he got the ball on the wing and attempted a few dribble-drives, but he chose not to force it into the Kentucky defense, which many times was a zone. Rush looked comfortable making strong dribbles with his right hand in the game, sometimes headed towards the basket, but aside from one badly missed floater on the baseline and one drive in which he drew a foul, he opted to pass the ball off on every drive attempt he made.
Rush is one of the most talented swingmen in this upcoming draft class should he decide to come out, but he could very well fall to the end of the first round if decision-makers buy into the notion that he won’t ever be more than a complementary player. It’s tough to get a gauge on whether Rush, a player with only two years of real coaching on an extremely talented team, is playing a complementary role due to his situation or because he just doesn’t have that go-to player mentality. Rush would do his draft stock well to show off more dribble-creation abilities throughout the rest of the tournament, but he’s in a tough situation where what his team needs most from him is just spot-up shooting from the outside, which is what he does best. If he doesn’t come out of his shell more in the upcoming games, he will have a chance to do so at the Orlando pre-draft camp at the end of May, should he decide to attend it once again.
[Read Full Article]
NCAA Weekly Performers, 1/31/07-- Part Two
February 1, 2007
After a promising freshman season, Brandon Rush returned to Kansas as a sophomore this year, where many expected him to take on a more assertive role in Kansas’ offense. Rush, a very gifted athlete at 6’7 with a wingspan around 6’11, hasn’t quite met all the expectations yet this season, but he has made some noticeable progress on his game. Rush has admitted he hadn’t received much coaching in high school, so his polish is certainly not up to par with his athleticism and natural talent just yet. But in some areas where he struggled last season, specifically his commitment to defense, his willingness to take the ball to the basket, and his ability to create off the dribble, he has made noticeable strides this season.
Initially looking at his statlines, it may not appear to most that Rush has improved at all, but the basic stats only tell part of the story. Rush’s field-goal percentage is down from 47% to 43%, and his three-point percentage down from 47% to 41%, but on the positive side, Rush has attempted 76 free throws this season in comparison to his 257 field goals. Rush only attempted 71 free throws in all of last season, along with 359 field goals. This clearly shows he’s attacking the rim more, and in analyzing his game, he also is showing a more versatile off-the-dribble attack. In the past, Rush has struggled mightily creating with his left hand, often losing control of the ball or not getting off a fluid shot attempt. While not yet perfected, Rush has much improved his left hand this season, making it a viable threat defenders now much respect. He can take the ball off the dribble with either hand, and can finish using pull-up jumpers from mid-range, floaters in the lane, or by getting to the rim where he finishes well with his great creativity and touch around the rim.
Rush doesn’t possess a great arsenal of moves to get past his man, and many of his drives comes on swing passes where his defender doesn’t have his feet set, but Rush has shown some very impressive moves at times, including variations of ball fakes and crossovers. One of Rush’s favorite moves is a double crossover where he crosses the ball from right to left, followed by a hesitation at the ball’s peak before he quickly crosses back over to his right hand to start his pursuit towards the basket. Since now Rush actually poses a threat going left off his crossover, which he does do at times, it makes the double crossover that much more deadly.
Rush is also a good shooter from outside, as many of his shots are of the spot-up variety from behind the arc. He doesn’t get much lift on his shot, but with his long arms and high shooting motion, he gets his shot off easily and hits it fairly consistently. Rush has improved on his mid-range game a bit this year, showing the ability to hit spot-up jumpers and floaters off the dribble, but he still lacks consistency in this area.
The biggest problem with Rush at this stage would be his lack of assertiveness on the offensive end, though it’s up to interpretation how much of that is his doing and how much of that is a result of his environment, being on a very talented Kansas team with many players capable of scoring the ball. It also must be taken into consideration here that this is still a player with less than two years of good coaching to absorb, and he has made noticeable strides in skill level during that time, even though his efficiency has dipped this year. Rush has scored 18, 21, and 20 points in his last three games respectively, though, so maybe he is now starting to turn that proverbial corner.
Rush also makes consistent contributions in ways other than scoring, pulling down six rebounds per game thanks mostly due his athleticism and length, and making an improved contribution on the defensive end in comparison with last season. Rush has shown improvements on this end in both fundamentals and commitment, getting up closer on his man while moving his feet and getting his center of gravity down more consistently. When a player of his length commits on perimeter defense, it can be very tough for the opposition to get off a high-percentage shot. For a player of his length, one would expect more than 0.4 steals per game, and using his length better in the passing lanes is something he could work on in the future.
There is a good chance Rush will enter the NBA draft this year, and he will likely be a mid-to-late first round pick if he continues at his current production. Even though he hasn’t put up outstanding statistics or proven himself in the go-to role, it’d be tough to see a player with his physical gifts fall any farther than that, especially given the fact that he hasn’t had much coaching to this point. If he continues on his recent scoring spree and consistently plays more assertively on the offensive end, he could certainly climb in to the single-digits of this draft, as if he puts his mind to it, he has the abilities to beat out any swingman in this draft class not named Kevin Durant. Rush still possesses many noticeable flaws in his game, but most of them are mentally-based, and if he can overcome those, he can be a very special player.
[Read Full Article]
Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big 12 (Part One: #1-#5)
October 26, 2006
In terms of talent and athleticism, few players at the college level possess the combination Brandon Rush does. His best attributes as a player come on the offensive end, where his game is very smooth. Rush’s jump shot has a high release point, and is a quick motion. He usually only takes three pointers when he’s open, but he uses the long range threat as a tool to get into the lane. In his most successful games last season, Rush did the majority of his damage from mid-range, where he is able to take a few dribbles in either direction and separate from the defender effortlessly. He also has a runner from about 10 feet that is very hard for a defender to stop. Rush has a quick first step, and is able to create off of 3 or 4 dribbles on many occasions. Though he rarely goes left, he has a quick crossover back to his right hand that usually gives him all the space he needs to create something. When things are working for him, Rush is very active off the ball, constantly moving around and trying to get open.
Rush’s main weaknesses right now involve his lack of ball-handling skills, and a nonchalant on-court demeanor. When dribbling, Rush almost always loses the ball when attempting to go left, and can’t go more than 3 or 4 dribbles without losing control of the ball. This, coupled with the fact that he sometimes forces passes in the half court offense lead him to be turnover prone at times. His lack of a handle also keeps him from getting to the hoop more often, and a player of Rush’s caliber athletically should certainly be attempting more than 2 free throws per game. He has good games where he does everything well, but when not scoring, he gets lost within the flow of the game, which hurts him all-around. His lack of intensity on the court really leaves a lot of people wondering if he’ll ever be capable of taking advantage of his natural talents and become a true go-to guy.
This season at Kansas, Rush is expected to be that guy on offense. He was up and down in that role last season, and on a young Kansas team loaded with talent, they will need a consistent perimeter threat who can get and make shots when they need them. The Jayhawks have all the pieces to win a national championship, but it will come down to consistency and chemistry, two areas in which Rush needs to attempt to lead by example. Rush will play the small forward position, and he is surrounded by a lot of guys who can penetrate to the basket, so his shooting will compliment the team nicely. Despite this, he can’t get too caught up in trying to be a shooter exclusively, because that led to many of his poor games last season.
To best improve his draft stock, Rush will need to show that he can take the team on his back and be a consistent first option. Improved intensity will facilitate this improvement on the court. Improved handles and better effort on defense will also be necessary if Rush wants to work himself into the top 10 in the draft. Few players come along who have the natural talent Brandon Rush does on the basketball court, but his ability to apply all his talents on a consistent basis will determine his success at the NBA level.
[Read Full Article]
NCAA Tournament: NBA Draft Stock Watch (round of 64, Friday games)
March 18, 2006
Rush finished off an up and down season with a very poor performance in his first (and possibly last) NCAA tournament game. After a very quiet 4 points in the first half, Rush only scored 5 in the second half, and was scoreless in the last 12 minutes of the game. His shot selection was shaky throughout the entire day, trying too hard to take control of the game in crunch time. Throughout the season, many people though Brandon Rush would be one and done at Kansas. There are rumblings that he wants to declare for the draft, but after a disappearing act in the most important game of his career, Rush will have to carefully consider the pros and cons of returning for a second season to continue to establish himself as a legit go-to player that is capable of being a star.
[Read Full Article]
NCAA Tournament: Oakland Bracket NBA Draft Prospects
March 16, 2006
Perhaps the most publicized of Kansas' superb freshman class, Rush is also Bill Self's most reliable scorer. Rush is another player who has clearly grown more comfortable as the season has gone on, and has only begun his development process. Rush is known for his soaring open court acrobatics, but shoots the ball much better than you would expect. He has improved his ability to create his own shot, and must be looked at as Kansas' go-to guy headed into the tournament. A string of big games for Brandon Rush in March could lead to a lottery selection in June.
[Read Full Article]
In Case You Missed It...the Top Weekly Performers, 1/23-1/30
January 31, 2006
Kansas’ Brandon Rush continued to build upon his outstanding freshman season Monday night with a dominating 24 point, 11 rebound performance in a blowout win over Texas Tech. This continued what has been a fantastic week for Rush averaging 22 points and 9 rebounds in 3 games in 6 days.
Rush, who declared for the 2005 NBA Draft, is showing college fans throughout the nation why KU fans were so ecstatic to land him after one of the most public recruiting battles in history. Over the last 8 games, he has averaged a sizzling 18 points, 8 rebounds, 2.25 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block per game. Not coincidentally, his Kansas team has been equally as hot as of late, going 11-2 over the last 13 games. The biggest knock on the smooth freshman this year has ironically been his refusal to emerge as KU’s go-to scorer, but it appears the light has come on for him and he’s been extremely aggressive as of late showing off his extremely polished game and outstanding basketball instincts.
Against Texas Tech, Rush showed why he was so highly touted coming out of Mount Zion Academy. Offensively, he showed deep range once again, knocking down four three pointers (he’s shooting 54% on the year), and much improved ball handling skills that he was criticized for in past. More importantly, Rush used his freakish athleticism on both ends of the floor. When the Jayhawks had the basketball, he took the ball strong to the rack, pulled off the dribble for mid-range shots, crashed the glass extremely hard and generally used his excellent quickness, first step and leaping ability to the fullest. On the other end Rush played great defense, not only rebounding well but also getting out in the passing lanes to ignite fast breaks and using his 6’11 wingspan to wreak havoc on opposing Texas Tech players. His attitude this year has consistently been outstanding, playing unselfish basketball, putting in plenty of effort in all facets of the game and meshing well with his teammates on and off the court.
Last year Rush could get no love from NBA GM’s who were foolishly not sold on his excellent high school career or a surprisingly good performance at the Chicago pre-draft camp, high school player or not. This year Rush joins LSU’s Tyrus Thomas and Memphis forward Shawne Williams as the only legitimate first round freshman prospects for the 2006 draft, with the price tag going up substantially compared with what he could have been had for just 6 months ago, and rising by the day. People will point at the fact that Rush (like the other two freshman mentioned above) at age 20 is older than your typical college freshman and therefore might have less potential than other teenagers in the draft. Looking at the strides he has made in his game over the past 9 months since we saw him workout privately at the Roundball Classic in Chicago, through the pre-draft camp and up to now; it would be ludicrous to say that he doesn’t have a great upside to continue to improve.
Rush is a smooth and effortless swingman with outstanding size, length, athleticism and offensive instincts.
He made a name for himself early in his high school career mostly with his physical attributes. Rush has good quickness, a nice first step and an explosive vertical leap. He turns the corner on handoff screens smoothly, exploding towards the basket and using his outstanding leaping ability and instincts to finish creatively around the hoop. He’s a pretty explosive player once he gets going; Rush gets in the air with purpose from impressive distances and absolutely loves to throw down emphatic alley-oops in transition, where he is at his best. Measured at 6-6 ½ in Chicago, Rush has a wingspan and standing reach that are comparable to some NBA power forwards at 6-11 ¼ and 8-8 1/2. His frame is NBA caliber and he already possesses excellent strength for a 20 year old.
Offensively, Rush shows the ability to score from almost anywhere on the court. He has terrific instincts to put the ball inside the basket, and it’s always been clear that basketball comes very easy (maybe too easy…) for him, particularly when it comes to scoring. He’s one of the most accurate outside shooters in the NCAA, shooting 51% from behind the arc this season on about three attempts per game. His mechanics are not pretty or particularly conventional, especially with his ability to utilize his athleticism and get better lift on his jump-shot, but it goes in for him at a good enough clip that there probably isn’t any reason to worry or change it besides improving the quickness of his release.
Rush picks and chooses his spots inside the arc as well, shooting a very efficient 50% from the field. He doesn’t put the ball on the floor well enough at this point in his career, but when he does he often has a lot of options he can go to. At times he will tease you with some terrific head and body fakes or a nice hesitation move to get his man off-balance and create space for himself, He has good vision passing off the dribble, and shows raw, but promising ability to pull-up from mid-range for a silky smooth jump shot. His athleticism allows him to take the ball strong all the way to the basket as well (although again, it doesn’t happen nearly enough) and this is where his offensive instincts come out the most in the way he finishes creatively around the hoop; whether with a beautiful floater, a crafty kiss off the glass or just with an explosive dunk to get the crowd off it’s feet. In the open floor is where Rush is truly at his best.
What’s probably most surprising about the collegiate player Rush has turned out to be is just how good of a teammate he is. He’s incredibly unselfish, certainly to a fault at times, but has shown terrific passing ability and an innate understanding of his teammates and where they like the ball. He refuses to force the issue even one bit as evidenced by his outstanding percentages from the field,
Rush has become a much more complete all-around basketball player at KU, showing significant improvement in his ball-handling, defensive effort and ability. A year in college has served him extremely well, and will make him a much better player down the road.
On the defensive end, Rush has never been known as a great half-court man to man defender, but has shown the willingness and ability to get better during the course of his freshman year. He has great potential here thanks to his terrific length, quickness and frame; and has used this numerous times already to come up with some very nice blocked shots both on the perimeter and recovering from the weak-side inside the paint, or even to step in once in a while and take a charge. His rebounding has been very good this year for Kansas, elevating high off the ground, not being afraid to mix it up boxing out and showing great hands rebounding out of his area.
As a player that freely admits to never really being coached before being thrown straight into the fire for a very young Kansas team, Rush is lacking a lot of experience and savvy at this point in his career.
His slashing ability is probably the area that raises the most concern. Never known as a great ball-handler, Rush has problems taking advantage of his athletic gifts to get himself easy shots around the basket, particularly in half-court sets. Being used to just overpowering high school players with his strength and athleticism, he’s missing a lot of the crafty moves that most NBA wing players have in their repertoire to create space and free themselves up on the perimeter. Rush is averaging just over 2 free throw attempts per game at the time of this report, which is an alarmingly low number for a player with his physical gifts. Beyond his average ball-skills, he just does not take the ball strong enough to the hoop. Many will wonder whether he is tough enough to capitalize on his athleticism until he proves them wrong. His left hand is extremely poor, and any NBA advance scout worth his salt will pick up on that immediately and tell his coaching staff to force him to either go left or just give up the ball if he's not spotting up for an open 3-pointer.
His extremely efficient shooting numbers tell you about the player he is in more than one way. Playing for such a young team, Kansas has needed Rush to step-up as a go-to guy and create offense when things bog down for them. Rush hasn’t always been up to the task, being either unwilling or unable to take his team on his back at times when they needed him the most.
Rush doesn’t always look 100% focused on what is going on around him on the court, making freshman mistakes, with careless turnovers and mental lapses on the defensive end. He's a guy that was very obviously not challenged very much early on his career by good coaches, and it's hard to completely change his mentality despite the obvious progress he's made under Bill Self.
When things don’t exactly go his way early in the games, Rush will show poor body language at times by failing to assert himself and getting too down on himself, being extremely passive and not being able to switch on the elusive switch that determines the type of player we will see that night. This is not the first or last time we’ll see that in a freshman, but there are legitimate concerns regarding whether he is willing and able to capitalize on his immense potential and become a star rather than just a very solid role player. Rush is so talented that he coasts sometimes, possibly thinking subconsciously that he only needs to fully turn it on occasionally when his team really needs him to.
Defensively, Rush is again lacking experience defending high caliber players on the perimeter. He was always the unquestioned star of his AAU and prep school team, and therefore wasn’t expected to participate in the little defense they played on the court anyway. As mentioned already, he has excellent potential in this part of his game, but isn’t always 100% focused on staying in front of his man. Good coaching, more practice against better offensive players and especially adding some strength to his excellent frame will help him here, particularly in the lower body. He appears to be more of a small forward than a shooting guard anyway, so bulking up will be a priority for him to guard the bigger and stronger players we usually find at the 3 spot in the NBA.
Already being 20 years old (turning 21 in July), Rush is not your typical 18 or 19 year old college freshman. Some may question his upside because of that, but considering the huge strides he’s made in his game over the past 10 months, and the fact that he’s only getting better by the game, it would be foolish to say that he’s reached anywhere near his peak as a basketball player.
Before college, Rush bounced around between four different high schools, eventually settling in at Mount Zion Academy, Tracy McGrady’s alma matter. Mount Zion’s reputation in the recruiting world may have been a factor in Rush not being invited to the McDonald’s All American game, where on talent alone he surely was deserving of a spot.
Rush plays at the University of Kansas, one of the most tradition-rich and pressure packed environments in the NCAA historically.
His team, one of the youngest in the country, was thrown right into the fire to start off the season at the Maui Invitational tournament, where they went 1-2 to start off the year (their only win came against the hosts, Chaminade of Division II). Rush played fairly well considering that these were the first games of his college career (see links: Maui Stock watch). After losing 4 of their first 7 games to start off the year, it looked like Kansas and Rush were in for a very long and disheartening season under Coach Bill Self. They managed to win their next 7 straight games, though; with the most impressive of them coming at home on national television where they blew out Kentucky by nearly 30 points. Rush had what might have been the best game of his young career, scoring 24 points (9-15) with 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks (see links: Top Weekly Performers). Two odd losses in a span of three days to archrivals Kansas State and Missouri followed almost immediately, with Rush having his typical 12 or 14 point performances. Kansas responded with 10 straight conference wins, many of them being impressive blowouts, which solidified their spot at the top of the Big 12 with a great shot at getting a high seed in the NCAA tournament. Rush was terrific in many of those games. A 25 point loss at Texas broke that streak, and Rush had his worse game of the season with only 3 points on 1-8 shooting. Kansas will still finish 2nd in the Big 12, far exceeding all expectations besides those of the most optimistic Jayhawks fans. A good showing in the Big 12 and NCAA tournament will likely solidify his spot in the top 20 of this draft.
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NBA Draft Stock Watch: Maui Invitational
November 28, 2005
It's usually not a great idea to jump to any kind of conclusions regarding the way a freshman player performs in his first few NCAA contests, but it can certainly be said that Brandon Rush played up to expectations and even exceeded them to a certain extent considering the type of matchups he was going up against (e.g Hassan Adams, Ronnie Brewer) at such an early point of his college basketball career.
Rush looks up to the unenviable task of being thrust into the role of Kansas' go-to scorer on the perimeter for this extremely young team. He looked comfortable with his role in Kansas' offense and showed good decision making skills for the most part in his shot selection and overall ability to fit into Bill Selfs' offensive scheme. Having a capable ball-handling PG who is able to make plays for Kansas in half-court sets would help him out greatly as his ball-handling skills are nowhere near good enough to create offense for himself on a consistent basis, but Rush still managed to pick his spots well, score his points and do so shooting an excellent percentage from the field.
With all the scouts and GM's watching his every move and the fact that he's clearly a one and done candidate you might have expected Rush to force the issue at times trying to impress the scouts, but that wasn't an issue here at all. Rush was more than willing to make the extra pass, but still looked confident enough in his skills to shoulder the offensive load that his extremely young and inexperienced team desperately needed from him. You can even say that Rush might have been a little too unselfish at times, as he clearly passed up taking a shot designed for him by Coach Self at the end of the Arkansas game, and was later reprimanded for it.
All in all Rush showed off his extremely advanced offensive skills and explosive athletic ability while also doing a very good job with his effort on the glass. His ball-handling skills still leave a lot to be desired when he's forced to create off more than one or two short dribbles, but its hard to imagine him not improving in this area at least somewhat as he continues to go up against high level athletes every day in practice and in games in the Big 12. Defensively is where Rush will have to adapt himself from high school to the NCAA and eventually in the pros, but even here he didn't look as horrible as you may have thought going up against the talented and extremely athletic juniors and seniors he was asked to guard in Maui.
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Adidas Derby Classic Recap
April 19, 2005
With the Derby Classic being viewed as the fifth best high school all star game by most analysts (behind the McDonald's game, Hoop Summit, Roundball Classic, and Jordan Classic), one would expect that a consensus top 5 player would dominate a game filled with what some would call mostly second tier players. While Rush did not dominate like he expected, he didn't really hurt himself that much either. Coming into the Derby Classic, scouts knew that Rush was extremely athletic, could slash with the best of them, and possessed NBA 3 point range on his shot. They also knew that he was a poor ball handler and sometimes didn't make the world's best decisions. Tonight, Rush lived up to his stereotype. Offensively, Rush struggled handling the ball. Any fan in attendance could tell that Rush wasn't very comfortable bringing the ball up the floor when he had to and would much rather receive the ball on the wing and only have to create off of a few dribbles. I believe Brandon had 2 dunks to go along with a very impressive play in which he went up as if he were going to dunk the ball with his right hand, then switched the ball over to his left hand for a lay-up. He showed NBA range on his lone three point attempt, which he connected on. To make a long story short, Rush needed to show his ability to handle the ball, which he failed miserably in doing.
Defensively, Rush got torched by Louisville recruit Terrance Williams. To his defense, there was not a player in the gym who could guard Williams, but received it more then any other player. Brandon was unable to keep up with Williams' incredibly quick first step. Rush also had a pretty low number of rebounds for a WF (2). Rush has all of the potential in the world to be a solid defender due to his long arms and good quickness. I just don't think anyone has really taught him HOW to play defense yet.
Overall, I would say that Brandon's draft stock will remain the same. He didn't really show us anything that we didn't know, but didn't do anything to hurt his stock THAT much. I personally feel that he should go to school to work out the few holes he has in his game, and then begin considering the NBA, but with the NBA draft being based almost solely on potential nowadays, you can't really blame him for testing the waters.
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