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Former UNC basketball player Shea Rush thriving off the court in the finance industry

Shea Rush, private wealth manager and former UNC basketball player, poses for a virtual portrait at his office in Chicago, IL on Oct. 12.
Buy Photos Shea Rush, private wealth manager and former UNC basketball player, poses for a virtual portrait at his office in Chicago, IL on Oct. 12.

UNC football head coach Mack Brown spoke for all athletes when he said attending the University is a “40-year decision.” 

The message especially resonates with former UNC men's basketball player Shea Rush. 

After his four years in Chapel Hill, where he was part of several NCAA tournament runs and the 2017 national championship team, he works as a private wealth manager in Chicago at Merrill, a financial management company, finding success beyond the basketball court for himself and his clients. 

“I think basketball, first and foremost — believe it or not — prepared me the most,” Rush said. “The structure and diligence — daily diligence."

Rush’s career path comes as no surprise, as he has been interested in investment since middle school and was also the president of the investment club at his high school. 

“I was always following and watching the markets and playing with my own money in the market,” he said.

Rush has also seen the experiences of his father and two uncles — all of whom played basketball professionally. When managing their career earnings, he has seen both financial responsibility as well some mishandling. 

By his sophomore year at UNC, Rush realized following in their footsteps and pursuing a basketball career wasn't likely, and he began to focus on using his financial knowledge to make an impact on athletes like himself post-graduation.

UNC provided a lot of support in preparing him for that next step, he said. 

"You’re working every single day at a level that pushes your body to extremes where you’re like, ‘I’m not sure if I can come back the next day,'” Rush said. "I think being able to realize how strong mentally I was taught me a lot.”

Rush also credited learning how to speak to donors in the basketball program and the things he learned in his business and entrepreneurship classes as stepping stones for his success.

A lesson he learned from Bernard Bell, the executive director of the Shuford Program in Entrepreneurship, still sticks with him to this day: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” 

Those lessons he learned from UNC still influence the way he conducts business now.

“It’s absolutely true,” Rush said. “That’s played into my role because I’m trying to tell people, ‘Hey, I can invest your money, I can manage your money, I can change your family’s outcome.’”

Now, applying this mindset to the real world, the care Rush provides for his work and his clients doesn’t go unnoticed by his current coworkers. 

“We have built our practice around working with teammates that work hard, that we can trust, and have a next level amount of care for people,” Kyle Moles, who works with Rush, said. “And he checks all those boxes.”

Rush also impresses at the workplace with his intelligence and how he contributes to the success of his partnership. 

“He’s so young, but he’s wise beyond his years,” Chris Nield, another of Rush’s co-workers, said. “His insights about how he goes about marketing himself and the team, how he thinks about situations that are so different than the other teammates and the other partners — he just brings so much energy and a completely different perspective.”

Rush is defining what it means to be a Tar Heel beyond graduation — just like the others who have made choosing UNC a “40-year decision.”  

@dthsports |  

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