Parker Braun, who redshirted his freshman year then played two full seasons at the University of Missouri in what has been a six-year college basketball career, is about to compete against MU’s Tigers for the first time.
The 6-foot-10, 235-pound Blue Valley Northwest High graduate — he also played two years at Santa Clara prior to moving to Kansas for a graduate transfer season — admits he’s pleased that Saturday’s 4:15 p.m. contest will be in Allen Fieldhouse and not Mizzou Arena, where he might’ve been booed every time he touched the ball.
“I am definitely glad it’s here. They did a good job there last year,” Braun said of Tigers fans who booed KU point guard/Columbia native Dajuan Harris extensively during the Jayhawks’ 95-67 victory last season in Columbia. Harris also had bragging rights in 2021-22, when KU defeated MU 102-65 at Allen Fieldhouse.
“Any road game is difficult,” Braun said, “but that road game is definitely a step above that. I think being here will definitely kind of help me calm my nerves a little bit and just try to go out and not try to do too much.”
Saturday’s matchup is the third game in a six-game, six-year series between former conference rivals KU and MU.
In his first and only season at Kansas, Braun has averaged 3.4 points and 2.4 rebounds and ranks second on the team in blocks (eighth) in a limited role through nine games. He stressed Thursday that he had a great experience in his three years with Mizzou.
“I’ve got no bad blood with Missouri, honestly,” said Braun, who played for former Tigers coach Cuonzo Martin. “Just from my time there, I know there’s a lot of history. But me personally, I had a great time there.
“There are still a lot of great people I stay in touch with today. No one is there on the team now (that he played with), and I didn’t get coached by coach (Dennis) Gates, but from the time I was there I had a great experience. ... I got a good education. I learned a lot about the game.”
After leaving Missouri, Braun became a KU fan primarily because his older brother Christian, who is a second-year member of the Denver Nuggets. Christian Braun played three seasons for the Jayhawks and won a national title in 2022.
Christian Braun participated in one game against the Tigers during his time at KU. He scored 13 points with four rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots while playing 29 minutes in KU’s 37-point win over the Tigers on Dec. 11, 2021 at Allen Fieldhouse. The elder Braun sank a 3-pointer to open the scoring and was responsible for eight of KU’s first 11 points.
That set the tone for a blowout win by the Jayhawks.
“I remember during the game I was in San Francisco,” Parker Braun said. “We were playing there. We had a practice that ended almost the second the tipoff came.”
A starter at Santa Clara after playing sparingly at Mizzou, Parker averaged 6.9 points and 5.3 rebounds in 2021-22 and 7.7 and 5.5 in 2022-23.
“I made sure I watched every second of it,” Parker continued. “The first four minutes he was going crazy. I talked to him afterward. He said, ‘Dude I don’t even remember. I couldn’t even feel my body at that point.’ Hopefully I get the same adrenaline rush he did.”
While Christian Braun was a Jayhawks fan as he was growing up in Burlington, Kansas, Parker didn’t really have a preference for either KU or Mizzou until Missouri showed interest during his own recruiting process.
“Growing up, my dad (Donny) went to KU,” the younger Braun said. “My mom (former MU hoops standout Lisa) went to Missouri. It was a split household my whole life.
“Some of us were neutral. Some of us kind of picked sides. Christian obviously has been a Jayhawk and I’ve been on both ends, so it’s just fun to watch. There have been a lot of great games through the years, a lot of history, so it’s going to be fun to be part of it finally.”
Parker did say he followed the fortunes of a KU guard from the Brauns’ hometown of Burlington.
“Being from Burlington, it’s got to be Tyrel Reed playing in those (KU-MU) games — him stepping up,” Braun said of his first memories of the KU-MU series, which was put on hiatus for 10 years after the 2011-12 season, when MU left the Big 12 for the SEC after winning the Big 12 Tournament title.
“I remember a game in Columbia,” Parker said. “Tyrel Reed stepped up and hit a couple big shots. I think that’s my first original memory, the 2008-09 year.”
Burlington native Reed hit three 3s and had nine points in KU’s 90-65 rout of the Tigers on March 1, 2009 in Lawrence. He hit two deep 3s during the first half and finished with eight points in a 62-60 loss to MU on Feb. 9, 2009, at Mizzou Arena.
“It gets electric for sure no matter where it’s at,” Parker said of Kansas-Missouri games in general.
Bill Self on KU-MU Border War 2023
KU coach Bill Self said Saturday’s game between the 8-1 Jayhawks and 7-2 Tigers “will be a big game for Parker from an emotional standpoint, knowing he went to the University of Missouri and started his career there.
“I’m sure it’ll be big, but bigger for Parker than Juan (Harris, a graduate of Columbia Rock Bridge High)? It’s a big game definitely for some guys on our team for sure.”
Harris, KU’s starting point guard, this year gets to play with Braun, a player he’s known since sixth grade. Harris spent so much time at the Brauns’ house in Overland Park during his AAU days that he still considers them family.
“It’s the same way as C.B. (Christian Braun),” Harris said. “I’m as close with him (Parker) as I am with C.B.
“It’s a family brotherhood thing. I’ve been with him as long as C.B. We have a lot of chemistry together. We’ve spent a lot of time together, late nights and daytime. It’s a brother thing, too.”