It’s fair to say that Blue Valley Northwest senior and KU Jayhawks recruit Christian Braun was born to play basketball.
His mother, Lisa, played professionally after a standout career at Missouri. An aunt and an uncle, Lori and Mike Sandbothe, also played at Mizzou. Braun’s father, Don, played first at Saint Louis University before transferring to Kansas.
The only problem for Braun: Those good genes took their sweet time adding height to his frame in high school.
“As a freshman he was 5-8,” Northwest coach Ed Fritz said with a smile. “Now he’s grown to 6-7.”
Braun’s talent grew along with his legs, and the 94th-ranked player in the country, according to Rivals, signed with the Jayhawks in September.
The Border War might be dead, but it’s still alive in the Braun household. Christian’s older brother, Parker, is a freshman walk-on for the Tigers.
Christian had more than 15 offers to choose from. Ultimately, the decision to play in Lawrence was an easy one.
“I told myself I was going to take all the schools into account when the recruiting process started,” he said. “When KU came into the picture, that’s always been my favorite school, just growing up in a small town near Lawrence.
“I did look at other schools and did give them the same opportunity that I gave coach (Bill) Self and KU. But I’ve always loved KU, and everything they’re about. I love the culture, and I just thought I fit really well at Kansas.”
The late growth spurt, talent and work ethic combined to turn Braun into the basketball version of duct tape — capable of handling just about any chore on the basketball court.
“By the start of my sophomore year, I was 6-3, and then I just grew a couple more inches from there.,” he said. “I don’t think it was hard to adjust. Honestly it kind of helped me with everything.
“I was working the whole summer, and it was tough and difficult to get through that process because it hurt really bad. I was having a lot of growing pains and wasn’t moving really well, but it really helped me along the way.”
Fritz isn’t shy about putting that versatility to work for the Huskies.
“He plays so many different positions for us. He brings the ball up the court, we post him up. We can do a lot of stuff with him,” Fritz said.
All of Braun’s talents were on display in a recent victory over Mill Valley. He finished with a quiet 22 points — quiet except for the steal that led to a breakaway and reverse dunk.
Northwest, 21-2 heading into Friday night’s game against Blue Valley, enjoyed a size advantage across the board against Mill Valley and used it to get easy looks near the rim and gobble up rebounds.
The Huskies are the two-time defending Kansas Class 6A champions and are vying for the first three-peat in program history.
“We’ve been fortunate with great players every year,” Braun said. “This year we have great players and great talent, but a lot of guys who are new to the varsity level, so we’re having more learning curves and bumps in the road.
“This year’s been a little bumpier than the last two, but we’re definitely on the right path. We’re starting to get on a win streak, and I’m as excited for this year as I’ve been for the last couple.”
Braun may have gotten a foot taller since entering high school, but he isn’t done growing yet.
“This year is different, this team’s different,” he said, “but we always have the same goal and same high standards.”