Kansas could have Brandon Rush back on the floor earlier than expected when they face Division II Washburn on Thursday as part of the Jayhawk Invitational.
Rush led the fourth-ranked Jayhawks (2-0) in scoring in each of the last two seasons, including a 2006-07 when he averaged 13.8 points and 5.6 rebounds. He had surgery for a torn ACL in May, though, and was not expected back until December.
However, Rush has been practicing for a couple of weeks and has been cleared to return to game action by the team’s medical staff. He said Wednesday that he wants to play against Washburn.
“I’m ready,” Rush said. “It’s up to coach (Bill Self) and whatever he says. I’m dying to play. I told him that, and they know that I’m ready to play, but they just want to take their time and see how everything goes in practice. It’s not my decision, but if it was up to me, I’d say go ahead.”
Self said he probably won’t make a decision about Rush until gametime, adding that Rush would come off the bench if he is able to play.
“It will probably be a game-time decision, as football coaches put it. He’s close to playing in games,” Self said.
The Jayhawks could certainly use their star guard now, as sophomore guard Sherron Collins underwent surgery Monday to repair a stress fracture in his left foot and will be out at least six weeks. Collins, who leads the Jayhawks with 32 total points through their first two games, rolled his ankle in Sunday’s 85-62 win over UMKC.
The injury was originally believed to be minor, but Collins began experiencing pain in the foot on Monday and X-rays revealed the fracture.
“What they think is that what happened last night triggered the pain. We have no idea when the original injury happened,” said Self, who said senior Rodrick Stewart will start in place of Collins.
“The doctor said he could probably have taken time off and let it heal on its own, but there’s a better chance it wouldn’t heal on its own. I asked the doctor what was the best-case scenario and he said, ‘Bill, we do these things all the time and it’s six weeks regardless. Just plan on it being six weeks.’”
Mario Chalmers, who is averaging 15.5 points, matched his career high with 23 in Sunday’s win. However, the Jayhawks, who beat Louisiana-Monroe 107-78 in their opener on Friday, shot just 16-for-31 from the foul line and allowed the Kangaroos to stick around for much of the game.
“I thought our defense was better than what it was the other night, but it still has a lot of room to get better,” Self said.
The Ichabods are officially opening their season against Kansas, but lost 79-75 to UMKC on Tuesday in a game that counted as an exhibition for them and a regular-season contest for the Kangaroos. Andrew Meile, who averaged 9.1 points last season and is the Ichabods’ top returning scorer, scored a team-high 19 and went 5-for-9 from the 3-point line.
Washburn returns three starters from last season’s 9-21 team. The Ichabods are opening their regular-season slate with three games in consecutive days, including matchups with Lincoln and Upper Iowa.