KU Jayhawks’ Braun had this offseason goal. It helped him earn an early Big 12 honor

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  • Christian Braun
    American basketball player

When Kansas junior guard Christian Braun set out to improve himself this summer, he specifically wanted to become less one-dimensional.

“Just working on being aggressive and getting back to what I did. I feel like coming in, I wasn’t just a spot-up shooter. That’s kind of what I turned into,” Braun said of his first two years with KU. “But I know that if I’m aggressive, that stuff will open up.”

The offseason work has shown itself in recent weeks, and was especially evident in KU’s 95-75 road victory last week against St. John’s.

Braun scored a career-high 31 points on 10-for-16 shooting, and on Monday, he was selected as the Big 12 men’s basketball player of the week. It’s the second time that Braun has earned that honor in his career.

The increased production Braun’s had inside the arc this season has been particularly impressive. In 29 games last year against Division I opponents, Braun made 40 combined two-pointers. This year, in seven games, he has 38 twos.

Braun has not only taken on a greater scoring load in transition, but he’s become more comfortable attacking off the dribble while playing off the skills of his teammates.

“There’s a lot of good guys on our team that can score,” Braun said. “So if I can do that (stay aggressive), I know it’ll take the team to another level.”

KU coach Bill Self, who said after last game that Braun is “climbing up some (NBA) draft boards himself,” spoke Monday about Braun and teammate Ochai Agbaji emerging as KU’s go-to guys so far this season.

He says because Braun has taken on that role, he’s had to rely on more than just his three-point jump shot.

“Teams are taking away what was perceived to be his biggest strength in the past,” Self said of Braun’s perimeter shot. “And so he’s definitely added to his game.”

That doesn’t mean Self still wants Braun to shy away from outside shots, where he’s 7-for-19 this season.

“The one thing I would say that I would kind of argue with Christian — I have about this — he’s still gonna make his money whether or not he can shoot the ball or not and get it off,” Self said. “So I want him to be aggressive and playing exactly the way he wants to, but I still think he turns down shots. And I think for us to be as good as we can be, he and Ochai can’t do that.”

Braun is second on KU’s roster at 16.3 points per game. He also leads the team in rebounding (7.3 a game) and has posted a team-best 11 steals.

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