Kaun making impact for Russia at World Championships

Rush’s Pacers future unclear after incident

DePaul forward Karron Clark can only watch as Kansas center Sasha Kaun explodes for a dunk during the second half Saturday, Dec. 8, 2007 at Allen Fieldhouse. Kaun is the starting center for Russia at the World Championships in Turkey and is making an impact for the team.

Former Kansas University basketball player Sasha Kaun is the starting center for Russia at the World Championships in Turkey.

Kaun, a 6-foot-11, 249-pounder out of Tomsk, Russia, who has played the past two seasons for CSKA Moscow, scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds in Russia’s first preliminary round game — Saturday’s 75-66 victory over Puerto Rico. He hit three of five field goals and seven of 12 free throws.

On Sunday, Kaun scored 13 points and grabbed four rebounds in a 65-56 loss to home team Turkey. He hit five of seven shots and three of five free throws in 31 minutes.

A back injury kept Kaun off Russia’s National Team last summer.

He has emerged as a top pro player in the Euroleague after averaging 9.1 points and 4.6 rebounds in Euroleague games and 12.3 points and 5.4 rebounds in Russian League games.

The Cleveland Cavaliers bought Kaun’s draft rights from the Seattle SuperSonics after Kaun was picked in the second round of the 2008 draft. He signed a three-year contract in 2008 with CSKA, but has an out clause this summer.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported in mid July that the 25-year-old Kaun likely will remain with the Russia team one final season.

“The buyout involved in getting Kaun, plus the comparable salary the Cavs would have needed to sign him, made it complicated to acquire him,” Plain Dealer reporter Brian Windhorst wrote, noting Kaun would be playing for Russia in a CSKA Moscow exhibition against the Cavaliers on Oct. 16.

Kaun married former KU soccer player Taylor Blue on June 18 in Olathe.

More on Rush

Former KU player Brandon Rush of the Indiana Pacers, who recently was suspended five games without pay by the NBA for violating the league’s anti-drug policy, received some negative press in Indy following last week’s news of the suspension.

“Now I see why it seems like he just goes through the motions out there,” an unnamed individual told Indianapolis Star writer Mike Wells.

Rush, according to the Star, failed a drug test for the third time. A fourth positive test will result in a 10-game suspension. Every subsequent violation will be five games longer than the previous one.

Wells reports that the suspension comes at a time the team is “already on the fence whether he’ll reach his potential. Coach Jim O’Brien has spent a lot of time the past two years shrugging his shoulders, throwing his hands up and even hitting his head against the wall when asked why Rush is so inconsistent. There’s also no guarantee that the Pacers will pick up the team option on Rush for the 2011-12 season. They have until Oct. 31 to decide if they’re going to pick up the option,” he wrote.

O’Brien has Mike Dunleavy, Dahntay Jones, Paul George and James Posey to choose from on the wing while Rush serves his suspension, the newspaper indicated.