Whenever a highlight-reel play has unfolded on the court this season for Wichita State, there’s usually another highlight occurring on the sideline in the form of a Zach Bush celebration.
Bush isn’t your typical walk-on. He’s 6-foot-6, can dunk and averaged a shade below 23 points and 10 rebounds as a senior at Eisenhower High. But he’s got the role of end-of-the-bench energy guy down pat.
Friends and family don’t mind coming to WSU games, even though Bush cannot play in his redshirt season, because Bush is worth the price of admission alone with his antics.
From prematurely standing to announce a three-pointer made by Ron Baker to spooning soup out of an imaginary bowl after a Carl Hall basket, Bush has built an arsenal of celebrations.
“It doesn’t surprise me to see how he reacts on the bench,” Stephanie Bush, his mother, said. “That’s just Zach’s personality. Even when he was playing, he got very excited on the court when somebody did something big.”
The transition from being a star in high school to a walk-on redshirt has been one without struggle. Bush says he feels a part of the team and credits that to the upperclassmen’s acceptance of him from Day 1.
He’s also become close friends with Evan Wessel, who has been sidelined since December with a broken finger, and Derail Green, who is also taking a redshirt season.
“It’s been an absolute blast,” Zach Bush said. “Even though me, Derail and Evan aren’t playing right now, we still have a ton of fun. This is once-in-a-lifetime. How many kids can say they’ve been on a team that went to the Final Four?”
But it was a joy ride that nearly didn’t happen for Bush.
He signed his letter of intent to play at Division II Washburn, where his mother played and graduated from. After attending summer camp in Topeka, the decision never sat right with Bush.
By the end of the summer, Bush determined he would not attend Washburn and would instead enroll at Wichita State and pursue a walk-on career at WSU with the potential of earning a scholarship down the road.
“That was the worst part,” Bush said of informing Washburn. “You never want to disappoint or upset the people that were there for you and wanted you. But at the end of the day, I have to do what’s best for me. I only get one college experience and this is my future.”
He’s studied how Ron Baker, who redshirted his first year at WSU, has made a difference in his first season on the court. He’s soaked in everything he can from coach Gregg Marshall. He’s trying to pack on weight to his rail-thin 6-6 frame.
There’s plenty of time in the future to wonder if he will ever play meaningful minutes for the Shockers. Right now, Bush is living out a childhood dream.
And he’s not going to stop celebrating.
“I mean we’re going to the Final Four,” Bush said. “How can you not get excited?”