KU’s Christian Braun could win NCAA, NBA titles back to back

KU’s Christian Braun could win NCAA, NBA titles back to back

Nuggets guard Christian Braun (0) knocks the ball away from Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) during Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals at Ball Arena in Denver on May 16, 2023.


Former KU basketball guard Christian Braun entered Monday one Denver Nuggets win away from reaching the NBA Finals. The Nuggets lead the Lakers 3-0 in their Western Conference Finals series with Monday’s game set to tip at 7:30 p.m. (Central) from Los Angeles.

Should the Lakers stave off elimination Monday, Game 5 will be back in Denver on Wednesday.

KU graduate Brock Bowling, the voice of the NBA G League’s Greensboro Swarm as well as broadcaster of college football, basketball, baseball and volleyball games for the ESPN family of networks, has provided The Star an amazing possible scenario concerning Braun, a key starter with the Jayhawks during their 2021-22 championship run.

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If Braun’s Denver Nuggets are able to win the NBA title this year, Braun will become the fifth player in history — and first since 1987 — to win an NCAA championship and an NBA championship in back-to-back years.

Here are the other four:

  • Bill Russell (San Francisco 1956, Boston Celtics 1957)
  • Henry Bibby (UCLA 1972, New York Knicks 1973)
  • Magic Johnson (Michigan State 1979, L.A. Lakers 1980)
  • Billy Thompson (Louisville 1986, Lakers 1987)

Braun averaged 14.1. points and 6.5 rebounds as a junior on KU’s national title team. He was drafted No. 21 overall to the Denver Nuggets in the 2022 NBA Draft.

With Denver in the 2022-23 regular season, Braun averaged 4.7 points as a key reserve in 15.5 minutes per game. In the playoffs, he is averaging 2.3 points in 11.8 minutes per contest.

Sampson to return to Houston?

It looks as if Kelvin Sampson will begin his 10th season as University of Houston basketball coach in 2023-24 — the Cougars’ first season in the Big 12.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the university presented a revised contract for Sampson in the past two weeks. ESPN has reported Sampson last week met with the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks about their coaching opening.

Before heading to Houston, Sampson spent six seasons in the NBA as an assistant coach, including three with the Bucks. According to the Chronicle, Sampson, 67, is “set to make $3.4 million in 2023-24 and would receive a $100,000 increase each year that Houston makes the NCAA Tournament through the 2026-27 season.”

“He’s outperformed, and he’s earned to be better compensated,” Houston athletic director Chris Pezman told the Chronicle.

UH is also working on a new deal with assistant coach Kellen Sampson that includes “more defined head coach-in-waiting language in his contract and commensurate pay once he makes the transition to replace his father,” the Chronicle wrote.

In a message to Mark Berman of Fox 26 Sports, Kelvin Sampson wrote last week “Can’t wait to compete in the Big 12 next season. Go Coogs!”

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