Kansas Jayhawks’ Christian Braun to keep his name in the 2022 NBA Draft

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Rich Sugg/rsugg@kcstar.com
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Christian Braun has decided to begin his professional basketball career after three seasons at Kansas.

Braun, a 6-foot-7, 218-pound guard out of Blue Valley Northwest High School who entered his name in the 2022 NBA Draft on April 24 with the option of returning to school, will keep his name in the draft pool, his mother, Lisa, confirmed to The Star on Tuesday night.

Braun — whose name has appeared as a late first-round to early-to-middle second-round pick in various projections — played well at the recent NBA Combine in Chicago and also has worked out individually with teams.

“We are excited about a new chapter,” Lisa Braun said. “He will miss KU and remain a KU fan. It was a tough decision. He loves KU. The feedback he’s been getting has been so positive (about being ready for NBA).”

KU coach Bill Self also confirmed to The Star Braun’s decision to turn pro and sign with agency BDA Sports and WME Sports.

Braun earned second-team all-Big 12 mention after averaging 14.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game during the 2021-22 season. He issued a statement on Twitter just after 10 p.m. Tuesday, a couple hours after it was reported he was staying in the draft.

“After gathering feedback throughout the NBA Combine and discussion with my family and the KU coaching staff, I have decided to remain in the 2022 NBA Draft,” Braun wrote on Twitter.

“While I am extremely exited for what the future holds, I would be lying if I said this wasn’t a hard decision. I have a deep love for Kansas, my teammates, the coaching staff and our fans. I hope you saw that passion every single game.

“Winning a national championship was a lifelong dream for a kid from Kansas,” the Burlington, Kansas native added. “And we did that. I’ll never forget that moment, that run, and the work we put in to get there.”

Braun went on to thank KU’s fans, his teammates and coaches and his family.

“While I may not be at Kansas next year, Lawrence will forever be ‘home,’’’ Braun wrote on Twitter. “Now it’s time to continue to work and take everything I learned at Kansas to make myself the best I can possibly be. I hope to make you all proud and cannot wait to represent Kansas basketball at the next level.”

Braun during KU’s NCAA title season placed sixth in the Big 12 in scoring, second in field goal percentage (49.7%), sixth in rebounds (6.5 per game), 10th in free-throw percentage (73.9%) and 14th in assists (2.7 per game).

He is the 65th KU men’s basketball player — 20th during the Bill Self era — to score 1,000 or more points. He’s 63rd on KU’s career list with 1,018 points.

“I think he’s ready for the new challenge,” Lisa Braun told The Star.

Braun will participate in a Pro Day in Santa Barbara, California, on Wednesday. The draft is June 23 in New York.

Braun, a two-time first-team academic all-league selection was named to the 2022 all-Midwest Regional team.

“Just a kid from Kansas,” Braun stated when he first declared for the draft. “That’s where I started this journey. Now, three years later, I’m a national champion. None of that would be possible, though, without the best teammates, coaches and fans in the world.

“To say I love Kansas would be an understatement. This place is beyond special. No matter where life or basketball takes me, I will be a Jayhawk forever and represent this program to the best of my abilities. … Thank you for your support every time we stepped on the court representing this amazing basketball program. Forever a Jayhawk.”

Braun was asked by Andy Katz of NCAA March Madness podcast on Friday at the NBA Combine about KU coach Self’s recent statement that Braun has first-round talent.

“I’m not too worried about that (draft position) right now. I’m trying to get better, make sure I’m ready to play at that level. Obviously you want to make sure your skills are at that level, make sure you are as prepared as possible, hopefully land in the right fit to make your career is as long as possible. I’m not really too worried about where I’m at. I’m just trying to get better every day,” Braun stated.

Asked what he brings to an NBA team, Braun said: “Intangible things. Everybody at that level comes with a lot of talent, a lot of shot making, athleticism. I think I proved I’m an elite athlete and I think I bring intangibles. I think I bring personality to a team not a lot of guys can provide, just winning at every level is also a plus obviously.”

KU now has 12 scholarship players on its 2022-23 roster. That’s one under the NCAA limit of 13. KU will be up to 13 again if former Texas Tech guard Kevin McCullar removes his name from the 2022 Draft. He has announced plans to transfer to KU if he plays college basketball this upcoming season.

KU junior-to-be Jalen Wilson also has entered his name in the draft. Like McCullar, he has until June 1 to remove his name if he wishes to play at KU this season. Wilson played well at both the NBA G League Elite Camp and NBA Combine last week in Chicago. KU is one of six schools still in the running for former Iowa State point guard Tyrese Hunter.