Wearing a black wrap on his right knee, a confident Brandon Rush jogged onto James Naismith Court at 4:30 p.m. Thursday for his second Kansas Basketball Boot Camp Conditioning session of the day.
"I'd say this is easier than the other boot camps," KU's junior guard from Kansas City, Mo., said with a smile. "He kind of took it easy on us this year, I'd say," Rush added of coach Bill Self.
Maybe it's because it's Rush's third Boot Camp, and he's known what to expect.
Or maybe it's the fact he's so happy to be able to be completing 90 percent of all Boot Camp drills just four months after his June 1 ACL surgery.
Whatever the reason, Rush was in great spirits for KU's next-to-last Boot Camp workout of 2007. Boot Camp, which lasts two weeks, concludes with today's 6 a.m. session.
"It's been going pretty well. I've been able to do everything, all the drills, except for the contact stuff," Rush said. "I've been doing all the running, all the defensive drills."
In fact, he's not begged out of any of the sets of 22s (up and down the court twice, touching end lines) that have felled many campers throughout the years.
"He made all his 22 times today," Self said. "He had to run longer than the others because he's not allowed to make quick turns yet."
"I can't plant to turn right now. They won't let me," Rush said of medical personnel, noting his knee is "70 percent."
"I've got to slow down (when reaching the end line to turn around without planting hard), but still am making pretty good times."
The timetable is for Rush to play in games on "Dec. 1 or a month either way." Look for him to dress for Late Night in the Phog a week from today in Allen Fieldhouse.
"I'll probably do layup drills, stuff like that," Rush said.
"He's doing great," Self indicated.
As far as the other Jayhawks ...
"I think Tyrel has done a really good job. He's really fast," senior center Sasha Kaun said of freshman guard Tyrel Reed. "Shady (soph forward Darrell Arthur) has done a great job. Cole (Aldrich, freshman center) has done better than I thought he would for his size. He's done a phenomenal job."
Aldrich, a 6-foot-11, 240-pounder from Bloomington, Minn., admits Boot Camp has been a challenge.
"It's been tough, but nobody's died through it yet. We're lucky that way," Aldrich said with a grin. "It's not easy. That's why they call it 'Boot Camp.'"
He said running for almost 50 minutes nonstop every morning had tested him.
"I was close once. I haven't lost it yet," he said of throwing up. "Chase (Buford, freshman guard) three consecutive days was the longest streak."
Indeed Buford had to "hug the trash can," Kaun said. "But that's to be expected. Everybody's done a good job making it through."
"He was kind of proud of it. He said it rejuvenated him," noted Buford's roommate, freshman Conner Teahan.
Buford, 6-3 from San Antonio, admitted Boot Camp floored him during Week One.
"I was exhausted physically," Buford said. "It wasn't that bad. I wore it as a badge of honor," he added of vomiting.
"I'm definitely getting in great shape. I can feel it. Today was harder than anything we did last week. but I felt better at the end of the day than I did last week. It's hard, but it's all mental. You've got to push yourself through it."
¢Bill Self went on the longest recruiting trip of his basketball career earlier this week: Close to 5,000 miles.
Self visited an IMG Academy training facility in Spain to watch the practice of some "recruitable athletes."
"I can say it was a long trip and long way to travel to be there one day," Self said. "I do think it's part of the job in recruiting to go different places when trying to sign guys."
Self would not name names of any possible KU prospects in Spain, only confirming he made the trip.
Highly regarded NBA prospects in Spain include Ricky Rubio, a 6-4 point guard, who is 17 years old and Victor Claver, 6-10, 235 pounds, who is 18.