Rush Returns but His Fate Is Uncertain
The UCLA basketball watch for JaRon Rush ended Wednesday afternoon when the freshman forward returned to Los Angeles after missing two practices and a game because he remained in Kansas City, Mo., after the Christmas break.
UCLA, which defeated Loyola Marymount, 92-67, on Tuesday, did not practice Wednesday, but around the Westwood campus, many wondered if Rush--reportedly homesick--would actually return.
“JaRon arrived in Los Angeles and will meet with Coach [Steve] Lavin,” said Bill Bennett, UCLA’s associate sports media relations director. “They will meet and Lavin will talk about what has been decided after [today’s] practice.”
How Lavin will deal with Rush is unclear. With UCLA, 8-2 and ranked 10th, ready to begin Pacific 10 Conference play Saturday in an important matchup against No. 6 Arizona at Pauley Pavilion, will Lavin bench the talented freshman?
“Until I talk to him, I don’t want to say,” Lavin said after Tuesday’s game about suspending Rush for the Arizona game. “It could be more, it could be less.”
Rush, who has started seven of the nine games he has played this season, left for Missouri after UCLA’s 66-56 victory over American University of Washington on Dec. 23 at Pauley Pavilion. He was supposed to return by Sunday, but his airline ticket was inadvertently booked for Monday morning, according to Lavin.
Rush, however, did not take his Monday flight. He was a no-show Tuesday, missing the game against Loyola.
“He was not unhappy, it had nothing to do with the school, nothing to do with the coach and he was not considering transferring,” Jeanette Jacobs, Rush’s grandmother, said from her Kansas City home Wednesday night. “He was just homesick. We told him that he is just going to have to deal with it just like all of the other kids and that he can’t run home every time he misses home.”
Jacobs, who recently spent two weeks in the Los Angeles area, said Rush told her that he wasn’t going to return to UCLA when he first came home for the Christmas break.
“He just needed some time to make up his mind to decide that he’s growing up,” Jacobs said. “He’s fine now after we got a chance to talk it over.”
Rush, hampered by a nagging back injury the last three weeks, is third on the team in scoring with an 11.1 average and rebounding at 4.8 per game. But he’s shooting only 37% from the field and 23% on his three-point attempts.
Sophomore guard Earl Watson, also from Kansas City, said he went through the same thing last year and that Rush’s situation will not be a distraction for the Bruins.
“We’re not going to let it get that big,” he said.
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