NORMAN, Okla. Leah Rush did not have time to sit back and think about the end of her Sooner career.
Instead, the versatile forward flew to Cleveland three days after Oklahoma’s loss to Ole Miss in the Sweet 16 and participated in the WNBA pre-draft camp.
The pre-draft camp is very similar to the NFL combine and the NBA draft camp. Players are put through physicals and a variety of athletic tests, then they are judged on their abilities during individual drills and 5-on-5 action.
Rush was among 50 invitees to the WNBA pre-draft camp that was being held in conjunction with the Final Four.
The WNBA Draft will take place on Wednesday, April 4 at the Renaissance Hotel in Cleveland. ESPN2 will provide exclusive first round coverage of the Draft at Noon Central, with continued coverage of the second and third rounds on ESPNU and NBA TV. In addition, WNBA.com will cover all three rounds, providing complete analysis and comprehensive information on all 13 teams’ selections.
It the midst of the whirlwind event, Rush made time to catch up with SoonerSports.com and update fans with the following Q&A:
SS.com: Tell us how you found out about the pre-draft camp?
Rush: Well I actually knew that I was going before the end of the season, but I didn’t really have any idea on the details. I didn’t know how I would get there, where I would stay and when the camp was.
Then after the season I met with Coach Coale she gave me the run down of what to expect. It was a quick turnaround. I was off to Cleveland for camp before I even knew it.
SS.com: Tell us about the pre-draft camp?
Rush: Well I arrived on Wednesday checked into my hotel in downtown Cleveland. On Thursday morning (March 29th), I was given the most thorough physical of my life. I thought the OU physicals were long, but they don’t compare.
It quickly dawned on me that the WNBA is a business and the players are an investment, they are going to do every bit of research they can before making a decision.
After that, we interviewed with teams, some reporters and WNBA.com. I love talking to coaches and have done plenty of media interviews while at OU, so this part of the process wasn’t intimidating to me.
Friday and Saturday were spent on the court. We went through individual drills and played pickup games. Even with all the star power there, it wasn’t great basketball. It was like an all-star game, because you had no comfort level with your teammates and everyone was trying to impress the scouts.
SS.com: Do you feel like you stood out when you played 5-on-5?
Rush: I’m not sure. It’s tough to standout in a setting like that, especially if you are not bringing the ball up the court. I just tried to play hard, hit the boards, play defense and control my game.
There were a couple players from small schools that really stood out. One player from Delaware and another from South Dakota State impressed everyone.
The 5-on-5 helped them, because they are not on television a lot and WNBA coaches probably have not seen them play.
SS.com: What advantage did playing regularly on TV at Oklahoma give you?
Rush: As I talked to teams and coaches, they were very familiar with my abilities and me. They knew a lot about me, so I don’t think the 5-on-5 session was as crucial for me as it may have been for others.
Oklahoma put a spotlight on me as a player and scouts came out to a lot of our games. It is nice to know that they noticed me, watched me on television and were willing to travel to Norman or around the Big 12 to see me play.
SS.com: What else has consumed your time in Cleveland?
Rush: Agents. I have met with a bunch of them.
It is a unique process because they all tell you exactly what you want to hear. I won’t choose the agent that tells me they can do the most for me, instead I will pick an agent that I fell like I can trust.
They all know what you want to hear about the draft, playing in the league and opportunities overseas.
In the end, I will pick the one that matches my personality best.
SS.com: What do think you bring to the table as a potential draft pick?
Rush: I think my versatility is my biggest selling point. I was fortunate enough to play every position except point guard at Oklahoma. I feel like I can do a lot of different things on the court. Coach Coale never puts her players in a box and I think that really helped my maturation as a player.
SS.com: Are teams looking at your as guard or forward?
Rush: I’m not really sure. I worked with the posts and guards during individual drills.
It will really depend on the team that drafts me and what needs they have. I don’t have a preference, I just want to help. If that means playing on the wing as a guard, or on the block as a small forward or off the bench as a defender, I am fine with it. I just want to play.
SS.com: How nerve wracking is the pre-draft process?
Rush: I was nervous about it before I left. I didn’t know what to expect. Plus I was jumping into the real world and beginning my professional career just days after my collegiate career was over.
Usually, you imagine that you’ll have months to plan before you graduate from college and take your first job. That was not the case for me.
Once we got on the court, I wasn’t too nervous. That is my comfort zone. I’m a gym rat and just love being able to play.
I know that I was not as nervous as Jillian Robbins, who played at Tulsa. We were on the same flight to Cleveland and she said she was so nervous, it was making her sick to her stomach.
SS.com: What have you heard about your prospects in the draft?
Rush: I don’t really know what will happen. I haven’t had any teams promise me anything, but I think several are interested.
SS.com: If you could pick a city to play in, what would it be?
Rush: Oh, I don’t really care.
I would love to be in a city with a lot of outdoor activities. I am outdoors type of person, I love to ride my bike and do other outdoor activities. I would love to train for a triathlon, so a city that could fill those desires would be awesome.
SS.com: What about school and graduating, because the WNBA season would begin before school ends?
Rush: Well, I only need to complete one online class to graduate, so it actually works out very well for me. I finished all my course work before the final semester of my senior year, now I just have my capstone class left. I have a big 30 -page paper on the horizon and then I will be able to say I am proud graduate of Oklahoma.
SS.com: There is a trend for WNBA players that go overseas and play during the offseason, would you like to do that also?
Rush: Definitely, that is something I am going to pursue. I would love to live in another country for a season. I am all for experiencing a new culture and jumping into it with two feet.
SS.com: Are you nervous with the draft being just 24 hours away?
Rush: Yes, but I am trying not to get too worked up about it. It’s a weird feeling to have your career in someone else’s hands. It is not like college, where you get to pick your school.
It might be a tough night to sleep, but I’ll say a couple prayers and leave it up to God.