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Rush Moves to Plan B After NBA Snub

TIMES STAFF WRITER

JaRon Rush continued Thursday to try to pick up the pieces of a career gone astray, agreeing to play for the Boston Celtics’ summer-league team without guaranteed money or so much as an invitation to training camp.

The latest setback for the former UCLA forward, who left school after his sophomore season against the advice of almost everyone, came after Rush was not picked Wednesday in the NBA draft.

As an indication of his shock, he declined interview requests through his agent while home in the Kansas City area, and even his spokesperson did not return phone calls.

“I would say he’s surprised,” his agent, Ray Brothers, said.

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Rush had expected to at least go in the second round, and maybe the first, but this outcome is only a mild surprise to others who had followed his situation. He chose not to play in the Chicago pre-draft camp, a chance to showcase himself after being limited to only nine games last season because of an NCAA suspension, and then did not look sharp in some individual workouts. In one, with the Charlotte Hornets, he looked out of shape before team officials ended it early.

Said an executive of another team that worked him out: “He certainly could have been in better shape. But he did OK.”

This was in addition to the shortcomings that were already known around the league--off-the-court issues, the lack of a consistent jumper for someone who would play some shooting guard in the pros, struggles to get a shot in the halfcourt game, the fact that many of the baskets from offensive rebounds that came in the college would be eliminated by the bigger, stronger bodies in the NBA. Those factors overwhelmed his superior open-court game, speed and jumping ability.

“JaRon obviously is a first-class athlete,” Celtic General Manager Chris Wallace said. “He’s got offensive skills and can really flourish in our system. We like to get up and down the court, offensively and defensively.”

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Rush begins making his case July 17, when the 10-team Shaw’s Summer Pro League begins in Boston. Among his teammates there will be Bobby Hurley, the former lottery-pick point guard looking to make a comeback. It is not known if Jerome Moiso, Rush’s UCLA teammate the last two years who was taken 11th by the Celtics on Wednesday, will also play.

What happens from there depends on Rush’s performance. He could get an invitation to an NBA camp in the fall, a good possibility because teams are still intrigued by his athleticism, see if there is an offer for guaranteed money overseas or go to the Continental Basketball Assn.

And then there’s this option: The Kansas City Knights have already contacted Brothers and said they will use one of two territorial picks to claim the rights of the hometown product for the inaugural American Basketball Assn. season that starts in mid-November, complete with a red, white and blue ball.


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