Finally, after two long weeks of waiting, Brandon Rush on Friday was deemed eligible to play basketball at Kansas University.
"I was worried. Weeks kept going by. I was getting behind in classes. I'm glad it's over with now," the 6-foot-6, 216-pound Kansas City, Mo., native said Friday afternoon while wearing a crimson T-shirt in coach Bill Self's office.
Rush learned midday Friday the NCAA Clearinghouse had examined his high school transcripts and approved him to play college ball.
"You guys (media) see our first legal payment to a player," Self said, grinning, as he handed an official university scholarship check to Rush.
"I think we certainly got better today ... whether it's putting pressure on the guys to perform, or depth, or adding a raw athlete," said Self, who added the 20-year-old NBA prospect to a class that includes McDonald's All-Americans Julian Wright, Micah Downs and Mario Chalmers.
KU started recruiting Rush July 30 after Self, at the Price Chopper Tournament in K.C., heard "a buzz that Brandon was going to go to school (instead of pros)."
Last month, Rush visited Illinois, Indiana and KU, then quietly orally committed to Self on Aug. 16 after his visit but didn't want to make things official until the Clearinghouse made its ruling.
"It's a great school, great basketball, with a great coach and great history," said Rush, who said his brother JaRon, a former KU recruit who went to UCLA, "wanted me to go to KU."
Ditto for brother Kareem, a former University of Missouri player now with the Charlotte Bobcats who told Brandon, "he wanted me to be happy and just wanted the best for me."
The soft-spoken Rush, who has been in town playing pickup ball with the Jayhawks for "about a week," said another reason for picking KU was its proximity to his hometown.
"I've been away from home, and my family hasn't seen me play," said Rush, who played at Mt. Zion Academy in North Carolina the last two years after also attending K.C. Hogan, Career Academy and Westport Highs.
He also said he knew Chalmers, Downs and Wright from the AAU circuit and, "I think it will be a really good fit. We're going to win."
Rush declared for the NBA Draft, attended several personal workouts with teams (paid for by brother Kareem) then withdrew his name. He is expected to play shooting guard and small forward at KU.
"Highlights," Rush said, asked what type of player he was. "Highlights."
As to how long the player, who Self compared to a taller version of slasher Keith Langford, will be providing "highlights" at KU, Rush refuted reports he definitely was headed to the NBA after one season.
"I don't know how long I'll be here," said Rush, who said NBA scouts told him he needed to work on "the NBA three-point line and defense. We don't know how my year will turn out."
Of the NBA issue, Self said: "He has not once mentioned to me, 'I want to be out of here after one year.' He has never said he is one and done. He said, 'I want to come to Kansas.'
"I said, 'I don't want you to come over here thinking you will use Kansas to get to where you want to go.' He understands we have to help each other."
Rush, who will wear jersey No. 25, said he needed the help, noting, "I've never been coached before."
If Rush, who is enrolled in 15 hours of classwork this semester (he'll attend his first class Tuesday; Self said KU academic advisers have done a good job communicating with Rush's teachers), takes the coaching and leads KU to greatness, Self will be happy to let him test the NBA waters after a season.
"I don't think he has a timetable," Self said.
Freshman teammate Wright said the Jayhawks were happy Rush was on board.
"He's talented, a great person, and he wants to help us win," Wright said.
"Sometimes, great players don't want to pass the ball. He passes the ball and fits right in as another great player on this team."
"I think everybody is all for it," Downs said. "He just makes the whole team better as a whole. We do not have selfish guys here. Everybody is for the team."
Self agreed Rush would be a team player. "He's a good kid. The only thing I heard about Brandon in a negative light is he went away to school to get his grades together and needs to play hard all the time. How many high school players do you hear that about?" Self said. "He has goals for this team and some strong personal goals. For him to have a chance to attain either of them, he has to be a piece of the puzzle. He wants to be that. He's not interested in going somewhere and being 'the man.'"
Though his play ultimately could classify him as KU's "man."
"He can explode by people and over people," Self said. "He's long and also a good passer. He handles the ball well and makes others better."
¢ Hurricane donation: KU athletics will donate $10,000 to the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, athletic director Lew Perkins announced Friday.