The College Basketball landscape is continually changing. We are now in a one-and-done era, but not too long ago, players stayed in college for multiple years to make a name for themselves. For Grambling State, that player was Brion Rush. Not only did he excel on the court, but he involved himself off the court in the traditions of Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
Rush attended Grambling State University in Grambling, Louisiana, from 2002-2006. He had a gift for scoring at a high clip, not just in college but everywhere he played.
He had offers from higher-level schools out of high school, but Grambling State offered him a full scholarship. Grambling State was also 45 minutes from his home in Shreveport, Louisiana. He had friends and family going there, so it became an easy decision. In addition, Grambling State was a distinguished HBCU with many professionals going through the athletic programs.
As a freshman, he averaged 17.0 points per game and won the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Freshman of the Year award in 2003. The country took notice of Rush after a stellar freshman season and wanted him as a transfer. Instead, he opted to stay at Grambling State because it was home for him.
He had an opportunity to leave and play basketball at a higher level. Today most athletes who don’t receive mid-major and high significant offers establish themselves and transfer after putting up the numbers that Rush did as a freshman. However, Rush was different; he remained loyal.
Rush stayed four years at Grambling, scored over 2,000 points, and won SWAC Player of the Year as a senior. He was top five in the nation in scoring as a senior, in 2006, with 25.8 points per game.
The shooting guard holds a few of Grambling State’s records, including all-time leading scorer (2052), most minutes played (3,523), 3-point field goals (298), and 3-point field goal attempts (800), and field goal attempts (1,723). Rush also scored 50 points and 15 rebounds in a game, a feat that has only been done two times in the past 25 years. Statistics and accolades aside, Rush represented the university well.
HBCU Community at Grambling
Off the court, Rush studied CIS (Computer Information Systems). If he wasn’t an athlete, he wanted to pursue a career in technology. In the spring of 2004, Rush joined Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. “They helped me with my homework if I ever got behind. We used to wear shirts and ties on Wednesdays to class, and it helped me in an academic aspect,” he said. Rush remains close to his fraternity brothers, who still communicate in group chats.
Grambling State’s football team was very talented and won or shared the conference title each year he was in school. He enjoyed attending games with his friends, and in HBCUs, football games have a rich tradition. Football games were significant events, and the whole town would shut down.
The facilities were up and coming during his tenure at Grambling. The school broke ground on the Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center when he was a student-athlete, and it opened on April 3, 2007, after he graduated. Rush played basketball in a gym, and Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center is an arena that holds 7,500 fans. While he didn’t get to play in the arena, Rush talked about how the Grambling community was growing with excitement.
Due to an injury towards the end of his senior year, Rush could not participate in pre-draft workouts or tournaments. NBA teams noticed what he did in college and had him on their radar, but he went undrafted in the 2006 NBA Draft. Rush was brought in by multiple NBA teams for workouts when he was fully healthy.
He headed overseas to Italy to begin his professional career. Rush started in Italy’s second division and led the division in scoring. In his second season, he made a significant jump to the EuroLeague, arguably the best league in Europe. The EuroLeague is tough, and leaping from a second division to the EuroLeague doesn’t happen often.
“From there, my career took off playing for big teams. I played in Strasbourg (France), and then went to Russia for five straight years. I got an MVP in Russia my first year (Russian Cup MVP in 2012). Russia brought in a lot of former NBA guys, and we played in either the EuroLeague or EuroCup, so I got great exposure,” Rush said when talking about his career.
Rush ended up playing 14 successful years overseas. His journey began at Grambling State and took him to Italy, France, Russia, Kazakhstan, Germany, Montenegro, Iran, Lebanon, and Spain. He even suited up for the Memphis Grizzlies during NBA Summer League in 2009.
As a talented athlete from an HBCU, Rush had a strong career overseas, played with and against very talented players, and showed that he belonged. His story shows that you don’t need to play at a big-name college to play professionally.
Involvement in RHC
Rush has retired from basketball and is currently working in real estate. He is also in the process of opening up a hot yoga studio named ISOYOGA. The HBCU alum was excited to join Devin Green when he called about his project.
Rush met Green about ten years ago while training in Atlanta, Georgia. They were training in the off-season with other professionals when they became acquainted. “Once we found out both of us went to HBCUs, we had a connection. A lot of guys don’t go pro from HBCUs, so the guys that do pretty much know who each other are,” Rush said.
Brion came from an HBCU, played professionally overseas for over ten years, and will be a board member for the Rich Heritage Classic.
His experience, journey, and leadership on and off the court will help young athletes prepare for college and beyond. “I’m all about building the HBCU brand,” Rush said.