By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Last season Austin Rush played on the first North Laurel basketball team to reach the Sweet Sixteen. Wednesday he became the first player for North Laurel coach Brad Sizemore to sign a college scholarship.
“First of all he’s a great student. I think he’s going to excel in the classroom,” Sizemore said. “We try to give them every opportunity we can. When it comes time, if they decide to (play in college) they are going to be ready, prepared to go and do a good job in the classroom.”
What Transylvania is getting other than a good student is a player that might have his best days ahead of him.
“He’s a kid that’s gotten a lot better as he’s gotten older and I think in college, with a couple of years in the weight room, he’s going to really blossom into a nice player,” Sizemore said.
Rush hasn’t always thought of college basketball as a possibility. It wasn’t until his junior year that he started to see what his options might be.
“I felt like last year I really started to get better. About halfway through this year I really started pursuing college basketball,” Rush said.
Ultimately it was the short drive from London to Lexington to led Rush to Transylvania over schools like Lindsey Wilson, Birmingham Southern, and University of Dallas.
“It wasn’t far from home, it’s a really good school, and my mom really wanted me to go there,” Rush said.
Rush comes from a strong basketball background. His mother, Cami, played for Laurel County (where she was a member of the 1991 state champion team) and then North Laurel. His aunt, Sunni, is in the top five of all time leading scorers in North Laurel history.
Rush will play forward for the Pioneers and has a chance to get playing time right away.
“They just graduated seven seniors, so they have four starting spots open,” Rush said.
When Rush does get on the court, Sizemore says he has what it takes to help a team like Transylvania.
“At the level that Transy plays, as far as his size I think he’s really going to be able to help them. He’s got great size for NCAA Division III,” Sizemore said. “He’s still raw. I think he’s got a great upside. As he continues to play and continues to lift weights, I think he’s going to be able to make a big impact.”