If and only if Brandon Rush's right knee heals completely, that pick-up basketball game he played in Kansas City could end up being a disguised blessing for him.
We'll never know how Rush would have performed in next week's NBA camp in Orlando, just as we'll never know how Kansas University would have done without him next season.
This much we do know: Rush deserves praise for having the maturity and discipline to complete his fourth semester of school work and to keep himself from hiring an agent, a move that would have made him ineligible to return to KU.
Rush's decision to withdraw from the NBA Draft came Friday, two days after he suffered the knee injury.
Reached by cellular phone Friday afternoon, Rush's brother, JaRon, looked at the development optimistically.
"It's really exciting to get to watch him for another year or so," JaRon said. "Hopefully, they can get it done this time."
By get it done, JaRon meant win the national championship. The chances of doing that in 2007 died when JaRon's former school, UCLA, kept Kansas from advancing to the Final Four. JaRon didn't pretend to have split loyalties for that game.
"I was rooting for Brandon," said JaRon, who will coach at summer basketball camps in the Kansas City area. "I didn't know anybody at the school, so it was pretty much all for my brother."
Asked about his brother's knee injury, JaRon said, "I've heard about that, but I really don't know the specifics. I think he may be out for a few months."
"Maybe, but I really have no idea," JaRon said.
He sounded confident his brother will be back on the court for Kansas all of next season and will be better than ever.
"I think he ranks right there with what Kareem and I did in college," JaRon said of Brandon. "I think he can get a lot more rebounds if he gets in there more. I believe he needs to get just a little bit tougher. If he can go in there and fight for everything, he can sky-rocket to the top."
What else does he need to work on?
"Ballhandling and getting to the hole," JaRon said. "He needs to be able to create his own shot off the dribble, going to the hole. He has the stand-still jumper to go to. He has all kinds of things. Basically, he just needs to work on that."
And, of course, he needs extra work on his left-handed dribble. Brandon Rush broke his left arm in a tumbling accident more than 10 years ago, and it didn't heal properly. How much of his reluctance to go left is physical, how much mental is anybody's guess. He needs to force himself to go left every time he plays a pick-up game, once his knee heals.
When will that be? Tough to say.
KU coach Bill Self said the knee will be re-evaluated next week. That's not a stall tactic. Often, doctors need to wait for swelling to subside for the pictures of the knee to be clear and accurate.
Picture this best-case scenario: Rush's knee recovers 100 percent well ahead of the first practice. He unveils a new and improved left hand, adds the interior toughness JaRon would like to see, and leads Kansas to a national title.
Imagine how high Rush would get drafted then. Imagine the guaranteed money.
- Rush withdraws from draft (05-26-07)
- NBADraft hopefuls must pay - for now (05-17-07)
- Rush:This isn't a surprise (05-01-07)
- 'Everybodyneeds to step up' (04-29-07)
- Rushingoff (04-28-07)
- Keegan:Money deciding factor (04-28-07)
- Decisioncatches some Jayhawks by surprise (04-28-07)
- Morestories about Brandon Rush