Transitioning to Coaching: How Zach Bush went from Shocker hoops player to Maverick basketball coach

From his time at Eisenhower High to walking on at Division I program Wichita State, basketball has always been a top priority for the new Maize South assistant coach.

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Photo by Shiah McLain

New assistant coach Zach Bush coaches and directs players during try-out week on Wednesday, Nov. 18. With Maize South moving to Division 1 in the AVCTL league, Bush won’t get the chance to play his hometown school, the Eisenhower Tigers his first year.

Marvin Cao, Bullseye Staff Reporter

What’s your passion? What inspires you to be great?

For former Wichita State Shocker and new Mavericks boys assistant basketball coach Zach Bush, it’s always been about basketball.

After playing basketball at Eisenhower High School in Goddard, Bush would pursue collegiate hoops and Division 1 basketball for five years as a key walk-on for the Wichita State Shockers. Bush, now 27, recently took the assistant coaching position for the boys’ basketball team at Maize South.

From a young age, Bush found himself playing the game of basketball. From the moment he touched the basketball, deep down he knew he had to keep playing throughout his whole life.

“It just started very young, you know, I think I started playing probably around four or five,” Bush said. “Just always loved the game for some reason.”

His father would fuel his passion for basketball by showing him Michael Jordan at a young age. Bush would look at Michael Jordan as his role model on the court by watching his moves, style of play, and mentality towards the game.

“My dad showed me a lot of Michael Jordan videos as a kid and had a lot of his VHS and DVDs that I watch and then try to imitate him as a kid,” Bush said.

All-State player and guard Zach Bush dribbles while playing at Koch Arena during his senior season. He is Wichita State’s first five-year walk-on with a personal winning percentage of 98 percent of his games he played in. Data from GoShockers.com. (Photo courtesy of Zach Bush)

As Bush grew older and his passion for basketball grew stronger, he decided that playing the game of basketball was his dream. He starred as premiere player all four years at Eisenhower High School. He would be part of the 2012 Wichita Eagle’s All-Class 5A team and the Topeka Capital-Journal All-State Second Team as a senior, averaging right around 23 points per game as was one of the more dominant guards in the Wichita area that year.  

“As I grew older, I just obviously became more serious about it,” Bush said. “And just built great friendships and had some great experiences throughout the game.”

Bush would also play for Wichita State from 2012 to 2017. As a redshirt freshman, he saw a season-high eight minutes in a Jan. 14 home win over Bradley in the 2013-14 season. That season was arguably the best season in Wichita State’s 108-year basketball history, where Bush helped lead a Shocker group to a 31-0 record in the Missouri Valley Conference.

“Being a part of the 2013, final 14 at Wichita State was pretty special,” Bush said. “I think it’s something, a lot of kids dream about that, you know, you usually don’t expect to get to be a part of.”

But as Bush spent more time in college, he started to see basketball in a different light. He wanted to be involved in basketball but not as a player.

“As I got further along in college, I just started to view the game differently,” Bush said. “And I just realized that what I enjoy as a person: it’s the relationships (coaches and their team).”

Bush knew that playing in the NBA was an impossible dream for him at least. But he still wanted to be involved with basketball, so he went on the other side of basketball as a coach.

“I still have that dream,” Bush said. “But I just always wanted to be around basketball. And fortunately, now I’m working on the other side as a coach.”

Before Bush accepted the position to coach at Maize South, he back to his alma mater for a year at Eisenhower for his first coaching stint followed by another year at Division I East Tennessee State University as a graduate assistant coach.

Zach Bush directs his players during an offensive set while coaching at East Tennessee State University in 2019. Bush made the decision to head back to Wichita to coach high school basketball with the new coaching staff for the boys basketball program at Maize South. (Photo courtesy of Zach Bush)

“It (coaching) feels like, you know, something, that’s a lot of fun,” Bush said. “It’s a lot of work, but at the same time, it’s extremely rewarding.”

After his time at ETSU, Bush moved back to Wichita and went on a search for coaching opportunities. When he heard that former Wichita East coach Joe Jackson, a proven city-league commodity who Bush was acquainted with and respected was now leading the Maverick boys squad, Bush jumped at the opportunity.

“I’ve known Coach Jackson for a while now; always had great respect for him,” Bush said. “So when I heard that he got the job, it just worked out.”

Jackson, who recently coached several state contending teams at Wichita East High, finds Bush as an impressive character in his coaching staff. He sees the passion burning within Bush that can spread to others through his instruction and teaching.

“Coach Bush is a high character young man,” Jackson said. “He will be a tremendous influence on the young men in our program both on and off of the court.”

For Bush, playing the game of basketball has transitioned more into a longing to give back to the game and area basketball players. To guide others, to overcome challenges, and to know that he left an impact on the players lives is rewarding for him and fuels his coaching fire.

“It’s a very special feeling to be able to help guys grow and get better and, you know, see them develop and even just see their character develop over the course of a season,” Bush said. “I think one of the most rewarding things in the world.”