Kansas freshman guard Christian Braun issued an emotional message to former MOKAN Elite AAU teammate Dajuan Harris at 10 p.m. Tuesday, shortly after Harris announced on Twitter his commitment to play basketball at KU.
“Since 7th grade … let’s go brother,” Braun, who is busy attending summer school at KU, tweeted to the recent Rock Bridge High graduate, who made the declaration from his grandmother’s residence in Columbia, Missouri.
Braun added a heart emoji to his tweet.
The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Harris — he helped lead Rock Bridge to its first-ever Missouri Class 5 state title last March and MOKAN to Sunday’s championship at the prestigious Peach Jam in South Carolina — is extremely close to Christian Braun, as well as Parker Braun, a redshirt freshman forward at Missouri and Landon Braun, an incoming freshman forward at Blue Valley Northwest High School.
“They are like my brothers,” Harris told The Star.
In fact, Harris has lived with the Braun family during the summer AAU season every year since Harris was in seventh grade.
“He has a room upstairs at our house,” said former Missouri basketball standout Lisa Sandbothe-Braun, mother of the three Braun brothers. “He’s absolutely a treat. He’s taught my kids a lot,” she added.
Harris has maturity beyond his years as he has assisted his grandmother in raising his three younger sisters and two younger brothers.
“He’s been through a battle and remained a good kid. Basketball and the good people he’s surrounded himself with kind of helped him stay on that path. He’s had two choices, the right way or wrong way, and chose the right way. I’m proud of him for that,” Sandbothe-Braun added.
She noted that Harris initially signed a letter-of-intent with Missouri State (he asked out of the letter in May) partly to play college basketball with his Rock Bridge teammate, Isiaih Mosley.
“Those two were basically raised together. Between Isiaih and Christian, those are like brothers. I know he struggled with making the decision to not be with him (Isiaih). Being with Christian (at KU) will be a blessing for both of them. He knows Christian will be there for him always and I will. It gives him comfort, ease,” Lisa said.
There is still a bit of uncertainty as to when Dajuan will join Christian Braun at KU. Harris still has to pass some classes this summer in order to be eligible for admission at KU. He’s in the midst of tackling that academic issue. If he does not immediately qualify for a KU scholarship, he can remain in the recruiting class of 2020 and attend Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, Kansas, for the 2019-20 school year and arrive at KU next summer.
“He’s in the midst of academic work now, online and tutoring,” Sandbothe-Braun said. The plan is for Harris to be red-shirted his freshman year with the perimeter position loaded at KU. His academic status should be known by mid-August.
“It’ll be a good year for him getting the feeling of the school, his responsibilities, his routine. Any freshman coming in … somebody not academically used to it so much it’d be a good year for him to make that transition, get his routine down, focus on that, get the first year under his belt with nutrition and weights,” Sandbothe-Braun added.
As far as Harris’ on-court skills … Rivals.com’s No. 136-rated player in the class of 2020 (he has no ranking in 2019) already is quite polished.
He scored 17 points in Rock Bridge’s 63-59 state-title victory over Christian Brothers on March 16 in Springfield.
He had eight points on 3-of-5 shooting with six assists, four steals, three rebounds and a block in MOKAN’s 85-84 overtime Peach Jam title victory over Team WhyNot of California.
In a game against highly-regarded point guard Sharife Cooper’s AOT Running Rebels team (Georgia) at Peach Jam, Harris had 13 points, 10 assists, nine rebounds, three steals, two blocks. He took three charges.
“My attributes are defense, passing and somewhat scoring,” Harris told The Star.
Sandbothe-Braun would agree and then some.
“My husband and I have watched him since he started with MOKAN (in seventh grade),” Sandbothe-Braun said. “He has great hands and can defend like no kid that age I’ve ever seen. He can handle the ball. He’s athletically so gifted. With the right routine … he’s never lifted weights, (has eaten) Cheetos and played open gym. Imagine when he gets structure and weight put on him.
“He controls the floor, makes good decisions, can pass the ball. Everybody has to have a Dajuan on their team. When he penetrates and can dish the way he does he makes everybody better,” she added.
MOKAN’s Drew Molitoris coached Braun and Harris during their seventh, eighth and ninth-grade spring and summers.
“Everybody is super excited for Dajuan,” Molitoris told The Star. “I think it’s a great fit. He is a kid that prioritizes winning above anything else. His stats always reflected that. Scoring isn’t necessarily his forte. He can dominate a game based on his ability to pass, defend. He has tremendous leadership qualities. It sounds simple, but he is a winner — the same quality Christian had for us in terms of always prioritizing the team above any individual stat or recognition.”
Molitoris said Harris often looked for 7-foot MOKAN big man N’Faly Dante, feeding the big man for easy hoops — up to four successful lobs a game.
“That’s what makes him go. He loves getting others involved,” Molitoris said of Harris. “He’s so good getting downhill, drawing help.
“He didn’t shoot a lot of jumpers,” he added. “He didn’t have to. He’s so good at being able to get to the rim and finish around the basket, draw help or kick out.”
KU coaches cannot comment on Harris or his recruitment until he enrolls in school.
“They (KU coaches) noticed when he reclassified to 2020,” Molitoris said of Harris’ decision in May to ask out of his Missouri State letter. “Just the way he impacted the spring/summer … his performance on the (Nike) EYBL and particular in Indianapolis and Dallas (EYBL events) and at Peach Jam last weekend. They had eyes on him (this AAU season).
“I think the intangibles stood out (to KU coaches) It’s rare to find a kid who can absolutely dominate a game that is not a high-volume shooter, scorer or a physical presence. He is neither one of those but dominates the game on both ends by getting guys easy looks. Passes are exactly right where they need to be. At a school like Kansas where they will have a low-post presence and talented kids on wings … it’s a perfect fit,” Molitoris noted.
Molitoris said KU has a potential fan favorite in Harris.
“He is a special, special kid,” Molitoris said. “It is hard to describe. Just his uniqueness in the way he impacts the game. The coaching staff will love him when he gets on campus, absolutely love him.”