Boys High School Basketball

Capital High boys basketball coach Paul Rush makes jump to college ranks

Paul Rush proved himself at the high school level, taking Capital from a 3-17 record during the 2011-12 season to a 26-0 record and a 5A state championship in 2014.

Now he is ready to take on a new challenge.

Rush, 32, was officially hired as an assistant for the Northwest Nazarene men’s basketball team Tuesday. He will be one of three assistants under new head coach Scott Flemming, who was hired by the NCAA Division II program in May. Former NNU players Jonathan Hawkins and Daniel Nyom round out Flemming’s staff.

“For a while, I have wanted to pursue coaching college basketball. I just have a passion for basketball and love doing it and love working with kids in that context,” Rush said. “Really, my wife and I have just been talking and praying about whether or not we were going to make that commitment to jump from a secure, steady high school job to college basketball.”

The opportunity to move up the coaching ladder and stay in the Treasure Valley — where Rush and his wife both have family — was a temptation too good to resist.

“For me it was really exciting, because I still feel like I have an absolute ton to learn as a coach,” Rush said. “And coach Flemming’s got a tremendous amount of experience at different levels. I am really excited about the opportunity to be able to coach underneath him and learn a lot about the game and grow.”

Flemming spent the past three seasons as the head coach of India’s national team. He also has been an assistant in the NBA Development League (Texas Legends), and has college stops at Nyack College (N.Y.) and Mount Vernon Nazarene (Ohio), where he led his alma mater to the National Christian College Athletic Association national championship in 2002.

In five seasons as a varsity coach, Rush has compiled a record of 64-52, but the Eagles have gone 56-19 over the past three seasons with three consecutive state tournament appearances. In 2014, Capital became just the fourth team in the 56-year history of the 5A Southern Idaho Conference to go undefeated and win a state title. The Eagles advanced to the state semifinals in 2015.

“The guys that I had on varsity last year that were coming back, it was really hard telling those guys (that I was leaving),” Rush said. “But my coaching staff is awesome. The guys that are coaching at Capital, I always say it’s not fair how good of a coaching staff we have had there. And they’ve kind of taken it over this summer.”

Capital posted the job opening on the Idaho High School Activities Association’s website last week. A replacement has not yet been announced.