SAN ANTONIO (AP) -Brandon Rush was living the dream.
He was going to be an early pick in the NBA draft. Then came a devastating knee injury, months of rehab and the realization he would be headed back to Kansas for his junior season instead of pocketing paychecks.
Today, Brandon Rush is living another dream.
He and his Kansas teammates play Memphis on Monday night, and Rush and his rehabbed knee are 40 minutes from heading to the NBA next season with a national championship.
Last May, Rush already had declared for the NBA draft - but hadn't hired an agent meaning he could change his mind - when he tore the ACL in his right knee.
``The injury occurred when I was playing. I was working out, playing a pickup game,'' Rush said Sunday. ``I wound up landing on my knee wrong, and it popped. My emotions was I was just pretty upset at the time because of what I was going through with the whole NBA thing.
``And then it feels good just to be back with Kansas right now because I'm back with my family, and we're doing something special right now.''
They're doing exactly what Rush thought about while enduring long months of rehab. That monotony was eased by thoughts of a college season that would end better than his first two at Kansas - a first-round loss to Bradley in 2006, and a loss to UCLA one game shy of the Final Four last season.
``I definitely thought about it the whole time; that's what kept pushing me,'' Rush said of a possible national championship.
His teammates pushed, too.
``When he came back Coach called a team meeting and said that our team just got better,'' senior Russell Robinson said. ``It seemed like our team went into a different gear and into a positive direction. Once we had Brandon back, we just wanted to keep him in a good mood and keep a smile on his face. We knew that would help his recovery program.''
Rush was the Big 12's freshman of the year in 2005-06 after averaging 13.5 points and 5.9 rebounds. The numbers were almost the same the next season (13.8 and 5.6), and Rush was again a first-team all-conference pick and an honorable mention All-America.
The 6-foot-6 Rush, with one of the prettiest jumpers in basketball, felt he was ready to head for the NBA.
When he does, it will be with an improved game.
``The challenge I think with Brandon is, his personality is one that he just kind of is carefree and enjoys life and having a good time. But we need him to be in attack mode all the time, I mean all the time,'' Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. ``That's what great scorers do. And he's a great scorer that doesn't score as many points as great scorers, and I think that's in large part because he's not looking for his shot. He's thinking, 'Well, these guys are all really good players, too, we should all share it equally.' Which is a good attitude to have. It's unselfish. But for us to be as good as we can be, he's got to get 15 to 17 shots, like he did last night.''
M. But Rush has been a huge factor in the NCAA tournament run with his defense against the opponents' top guards.
On Monday night, Memphis All-America guard Chris Douglas-Roberts will be Rush's latest assignment.
``I love being in that role, just trying to limit one of the star players,'' Rush said. ``That's my whole goal tomorrow. I know he's probably going to get his points, but I'm going to try and make him work for them.''
The national championship game might not be Rush's last as a collegian.
``I'll make my mind up the next few weeks, hear some things, talk to people,'' he said of again applying for early entry to the NBA draft.
Just another dream for Brandon Rush.

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