KU's Braun working on his shooting and more

Gary Bedore
Kansas City Star (TNS)
Kansas guard Christian Braun yells out after the Jayhawks pull ahead of Baylor during a game last season inside Allen Fieldhouse.

A 6-foot-6, 210-pound wing with the ability to stretch the defense, Christian Braun hit six three-point shots in a win versus West Virginia, five in a victory over St. Joseph's and five in a loss to Baylor his sophomore season at Kansas.

On fire at times, the junior-to-be out of Blue Valley Northwest High School was a bit inconsistent overall from beyond the arc.

An 8-for-39 (.205) stretch over KU's last nine games followed a 44-for-114 (.386) start and added up to a 34% mark on the season compared to his 44% three-point shooting as a freshman (32-of-72) in 2019-20.

He's been working on technique issues designed to improve his accuracy in 2021-22.

"Obviously I am focusing on quick release, getting the shot off quicker. That's something I've got to work on every day," said Braun, a starter who averaged 9.7 points and 5.2 rebounds a game his sophomore season compared to marks of 5.3 points and 2.9 rebounds per outing as a freshman. He averaged 31.2 minutes his sophomore season in 30 games; 18.4 minutes per game as a freshman in 31 games.

"It's another step as I get older. I've got to grow every year," Braun said, adding, "I'm excited for another opportunity just to grow as a player, excited for the opportunity to play more free (and) hopefully be more successful as a team."

The 21-9 Jayhawks placed second to Baylor during the Big 12 regular season and went 1-1 in the NCAAs a year ago.

Braun's closest friend on the KU team, redshirt sophomore point guard Dajuan Harris, has monitored Braun's offseason workouts closely.

"He's dribbling more. His handles got a lot better. He's shooting it quicker. Last year his release wasn't that fast," Harris said. "I feel he's shooting it way better than he was last year. His release got faster. If he can do that, he can shoot all he wants. If he keeps doing that he'll be a real good player because he's 6-7, 6-8, can shoot it, is strong. He can do anything he wants."

Harris would expect Braun to soon be regarded as one of the top players in the Big 12 Conference.

"I feel a lot of people sleep on him," Harris said, "but he's just got to wake them up for real. He's been working out. We've all been working out. That's all we've been doing."

Indeed ... "I think the summer is for everybody to improve your whole game," Braun stated.

Braun — he hit six threes in a home victory over Kansas State his freshman season — was asked Tuesday after working as a counselor at Brett Ballard's Washburn camp in Topeka — to assess his performance through two seasons.

"I think I'm a little ahead of what people thought," Braun said. "I think coming in, people thought I was going to redshirt, I was just going to be some guy who was along for the ride. That was never the goal. For me that was never my vision.

"I knew I could come in here and impact the team each year I was here. That (being along for ride) was never my vision. People probably thought that's what I wanted. That's not who I am. That's not what I want," added Braun, who said his biggest goal is "go to the Final Four, win a national championship."

KU's roster for 2021-22 has changed dramatically since the end of the 2020-21 campaign. Coach Bill Self has so far added eight new scholarship players and two new walk-ons.

Braun cracked a joke about the number of newcomers when asked what he'd been doing from mid-May when school let out until June 8 when summer school classes/summer workouts began at KU.

"Playing basketball by myself at home and seeing who else KU signed," Braun said, smiling.

KU in a flurry of activity from late March until the start of summer school added Arizona State transfer Remy Martin, Drake transfer Joseph Yesufu, Iowa State transfer Jalen Coleman-Lands and Missouri Southern transfer Cam Martin as well as freshman Bobby Pettiford, who committed to KU on March 30. KU also added a pair of walk-ons recently in Dillon Wilhite and Charlie McCarthy. Earlier, KU signed freshmen KJ Adams, Zach Clemence and Kyle Cuffe.

"We're building relationships every day. We're here in the summer for a reason, Braun said. "The reason we do come up here early is for that, to get to know each other as people more importantly, then we'll get on the court and we'll figure that out. We've got a lot of guys really talented. There will be a lot of competition. They are all good dudes. There will be competition every day in the summer I think we'll be ready when the time comes."

Ochai Agbaji, Jalen Wilson and Remy Martin have still have to decide whether they will return to KU or keep their names in the 2021 NBA Draft.

"Not everybody is on campus. I've seen the guys play for two days. I couldn't really tell you how we are going to play, what style we are going to play, who is even going to be in the game," Braun said. "I am really excited to see what everybody brings to the table."

There was a transaction this offseason involving the Braun family.

Christian's brother, Parker Braun, elected to transfer from Missouri to Santa Clara. Parker Braun averaged 2.8 points and 1.5 rebounds per game during his redshirt sophomore season at Mizzou.

"I'm really excited for him. I think he looked at all his options," Christian said of his brother, who also heard from coaches from Oklahoma, Creighton and others.

"I would hope so," Christian added, referring to his brother maybe getting additional minutes at Santa Clara. He averaged 9.3 minutes in 20 games last season at MU. "That's going to be the idea going to a new school. I'm hoping he gets a lot of minutes."