Last season, the Kansas Jayhawks finished the season as the best team in College Basketball and they would have notched the number one overall seed. The main sources of that were Udoka Azubuike and Devon Dotson but they had key contributions from Christian Braun, Isaiah Moss, David McCormack, Ochai Agbaji, and of course, defensive ace Marcus Garrett.
This season, they lose of Azubuike, Dotson, and Moss, but they add Bryce Thompson, and Tyon Foster-Grant, who are two big-name guards entering the program this season. Losing your two best players is never easy, and while some people think it’ll come down to what David McCormack, Silvio De Sousa, and Jalen Wilson can provide down-low, I think they’ll all be solid and steady players but I think Christian Braun has start potential.
Braun in his Freshman season, he didn’t provide numbers that’ll make you jump out of your chair, but it should make you ready to buy stock into the rise of Christian Braun. Braun averaged 5.3 points and 2.9 rebounds in just 18 minutes per game. The biggest thing Braun contributed is his elite shooting, he shot 44% from deep while being a good defender. Braun didn’t see consistent minutes until Mid-December and from there it was game on. Braun’s first big showing was in Late January against Kansas State, he scored 20 points which ended up being his season-high. He also had a game against Oklahoma State where he shot 5-11 from the floor and had 16 Points. Braun showed constant flashes but just was never relied on to put in consistent work.
With no returning star player, the lion share of work won’t go all on one player while Thompson has a high upside. It’ll be interesting to see what he does as a Freshman. The work will be divided up between Thompson, Foster-Grant, Garrett, Agbaji, McCormack, and Braun. The main thing Braun does differently than those listed, he’s one of the best shooters in the entire country. Braun only had a 12.4 Usage rate, being sixth on his team behind Azubuike, Dotson, Moss, Garrett, and Agbaji, three of which are no longer in Lawrence. If Braun’s usage rate jumps up to let’s say 20%, he would likely average double-figures and would prove to be a more integral part of the offense.
The main thing that you can’t forget about Braun’s game is his solid defensive contributions. While Garrett is the reigning defensive player of the year, that will allow Braun to get more favorable players to face on offense. While Garrett will be on Jared Butler, Braun will be on MaCio Teague. While that’s no easy task, it takes most of the pressure away and will allow Braun to play stress-free. Defensive versatility is something that will be big as Braun could realistically guard 1-4.
If Braun can show one thing that’s he’s yet to show is the ability to score other than deep-range shots. Braun shot 130 shots this season, 72 being three’s. While most of his time playing this season was moving around the perimeter, not much moving towards the paint, but he hs the size to be able to score inside and he certainly has the skills to do that.
If the Jayhawks want to achieve their ceiling, sophomore Christian Braun needs to continue his development and become an impact scorer for the Jayhawks.