Brett Rau heard the phrase often during his two years in junior college.
Stick around long enough and your time will come.
Saying it would come true at Missouri, well, that was a stretch.
As a freshman at Elgin (Ill.) Community College, Rau logged just 28 minutes in his first 14 games. But he left a year later as a second-team junior-college All-American. Now that lesson has proven true again as the 6-foot-4 walk-on guard prepares for the final stretch of his collegiate career.
With Missouri down to eight available players after senior wing Jordan Barnett was suspended for seven days following his arrest for suspicion of driving while intoxicated, Rau is likely to see an extended amount of time on the floor when the Tigers face Florida State on Friday.
He has heard his number called more times than a usual walk-on during a season in which Missouri’s roster has been continuously whittled down.
Rau appeared six conference games during the regular season, with the majority of his minutes coming in the middle of games rather than toward the end. Rau played nine minutes in Missouri’s loss to Georgia in the SEC Tournament, one off his career-high.
Most walk-ons only enter games in the final minutes, when their team is blowing someone out, or getting blown out.
“With the people that we lost,” Rau said, “I knew I always had to be prepared at any moment to step in.”
Two guards who were ahead of Rau to start the season are now gone. Terrence Phillips was removed from the team after becoming the subject of a Title IX investigation, and Blake Harris transferred.
“I don’t see him ever being overwhelmed,” said Brett Porto, Rau’s high school coach at Burlington Central in Illinois. “I think he understands his role and is trying to help out wherever he can.”
Rau was barely recruited out of high school, except for a few Division III and NAIA schools. He went to Elgin hoping to eventually play Division I ball.
After committing six turnovers in 11 minutes during his first junior-college game, Rau played sparingly for the majority of his freshman season.
“After that first game, I didn’t have a lot of confidence in him,” said Reed Nosbisch, Rau’s coach at ECC. “Brett didn’t have a lot of confidence in him.”
But Rau spent the offseason in the gym and the results showed during his sophomore year.
After averaging just four points and 2.3 rebounds as a freshman, Rau had a breakout sophomore season. He averaged 15.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists a game while leading the Spartans to a conference championship and earning All-America honors.
Opposing coaches and players asked Nosbisch who his new star player was . He told them that Rau wasn’t new.
Rau exceeded even his coach’s expectations. While he was recruiting Rau, Nosbisch looked at him as a quality defender and distributor and not really much of a scorer.
“The difference between Brett’s freshman and sophomore years was that Brett made that decision that, 'I want to be as I good as I can be,'” Nosbisch said.
As Division II offers poured in, a different opportunity presented itself: Missouri. Kim Anderson’s staff had Rau down for a visit and offered him a walk-on spot.
Rau’s oldest brother, Corey, was a walk-on at Illinois State from 2008 to 2010. Corey told Brett that being a non-scholarship player at a bigger school is “a completely different mindset.”
Walk-ons must keep a positive outlook and bring consistent energy to the bench while knowing they’ll probably never get in the game.
“He knew what he was getting into,” Corey Rau said.
Rau played sparingly in his first season in Columbia, which was Anderson’s last.
In the nine minutes he played against Georgia, Rau held his own on the defensive end and as a reliable ball handler, which is something Missouri has lacked throughout the season.
Cuonzo Martin has half-joked that while Rau has played well recently, he’s not sure if he has “the green light” on offense.
On Friday, that could change.
“None of us are surprised by anything that he does," Mizzou junior forward Kevin Puryear said. "I’m sure you’ll see more of him.”