As a high-profile Kansas University basketball player, junior Brandon Rush is used to drawing both stares and comments from passers-by on The Hill.
There have been more gazes than ever this semester ... all eyes fixed on the 6-foot-6 Kansas Citian's surgically repaired right knee.
"Every time I walk to class, they say, 'Looking good,'" Rush said Tuesday.
He's feeling great as well.
Rush on Tuesday gave an optimistic update on his steady recovery from June 1 right-ACL surgery.
Cleared to begin jogging Aug. 22, he just recently picked up the pace.
"I am sprinting now," said Rush, who ran "a mile worth of sprints" and worked out in the weight room Friday, then gladly accepted an offer of a hard-earned holiday weekend off.
"I've been running awhile now. I should start jumping on Friday."
Rush, whose timetable all along has had him returning "Dec. 1 or a month either way," has turned heads at individual workouts. Players are allowed to practice with coaches two hours a week in the offseason in accordance with NCAA rules.
"I shoot and do dribbling drills," Rush said. "I've been shooting about a month. I can run into my shot. I just can't do hard cuts or leave my feet yet. I can't really jump."
He hits the weights hard on a daily basis.
That's upper- and lower-body weights.
"I started squatting two weeks ago. I probably leg press more than anybody on our team already," Rush said of presses with his surgically repaired leg. "I can do 250 (pounds) on my bad leg. My leg always has been strong for some reason."
Maybe that's why he's felt so little pain during the rehab process.
"All those horror stories that scared me a little bit are not true," Rush said. "Probably the first two to three weeks there was a little pain. After that, no pain at all.
"I think a few years ago this injury was more serious. Now with the technology we have - we have a machine that builds your quads up strong - players can recover quicker than maybe they could years ago."
Rush is doing so well he thinks he'll be able to dress with the rest of the KU team at the Oct. 12 Late Night in the Phog and first official practice of the season Oct. 13.
"I think I can start practicing when we start practicing," he said. "I won't be able to do everything. I won't be able to get through all the drills. I will probably be able to go up and down the court. They are not giving me a date (to return to games)," he added. "I'm still hearing Dec. 1, six months. But nobody sets an exact date. We'll see how it goes.
"I think the thing is your knee needs to be healed. It feels weak at first when you start playing games. You've got to give it some time. I think it'll take me a little time, I don't know how many games, to get back to the old Brandon, probably a few games to get back."
His teammates are impressed with Rush's work ethic.
"Just being around him you can tell he's doing well. He's in good spirits. He looks great when he's working out," senior Jeremy Case said.
"I think he'll be back soon. I think he'll be playing soon," senior Russell Robinson said. "When he'll be back to the old Brandon ... I'd say November or December. He's doing great in his rehab."
And Rush says he is doing well in class. Last spring after announcing plans to return to KU, the NBA prospect admitted he wasn't looking forward to attending classes a third year.
"I'm taking 12 hours. It's not a killer schedule now. I don't have to take math or anything. I think I've got a little walk in the park," he said with a smile.
He reiterated he'd like to play in the NBA perhaps sooner than later. "Everybody here wants to be in the NBA," he said. "I'll think about that after the season, see how my leg holds up."
Recruiting: Mario Little, a 6-5, 210-pound sophomore forward from Chipola Junior College, will make an official visit to KU this weekend. He tells Rivals.com he will visit Kansas State on Sept. 14 and Illinois on Sept. 28 and make a decision shortly after that. Little, who averaged 10 points and six rebounds a game last season, played high school ball at Chicago's Washington High.
"Mario wants a future in basketball. I think that's one of the reasons he is so interested in Kansas," Chipola coach Greg Heiar told Rivals.com. "The Chicago kids are close, so he knows about the Chicago kids (Julian Wright, Sherron Collins) that have played at Kansas.. The tradition at Kansas speaks for itself."