According to his roommate, Christian Braun, KU junior Silvio De Sousa has spent more time in the gym this summer than in their room.
And while that setting has provided the 6-foot-9 forward from Angola with the perfect place to work on his game and release his endless amount of excited energy from regaining his eligibility, it also has been a good vantage point for De Sousa to see Braun in action.
“Hey, he’s an athlete,” De Sousa said with enthusiasm when asked about Braun recently. “In high school, people might’ve seen him as a shooter, but I see him go against us in practice and I’m like, ‘You’re a dog.’ He’s unbelievable.”
Standing at 6 feet, 7 inches tall and able to play a number of different styles and positions, Braun figures to bring a little bit of everything to the KU roster this season.
Grit and toughness, athleticism and activity and the ability to both score and defend.
“He’s just always ready for whatever it takes,” De Sousa said. “Diving on the floor, going for every single loose ball, I love it. I just love his game and I just think he’ll be very special.”
De Sousa is not the only one in the KU locker room who feels that way. And while Braun has played the “I’ll do whatever coach asks me to do” card more than a handful of times this offseason — it’s his genuine stance and how he’s wired, by the way — his head coach is also more than a little excited about what Braun might bring to the program this winter.
And it goes beyond Braun’s athleticism and ability to shoot the ball, and enters an area that some people might not quite expect.
“This will be the biggest team that we’ve had, at least in recent memory,” KU coach Bill Self recently told the Journal-World. “Inside, with Dok and David and Silvio and Mitch and then you’ve got two guys, (freshman) Jalen (Wilson), and the one that people may be sleeping on in Christian. Christian’s 6-7 and he’s tough. So those guys, if they can defend their position, they could create some problems for other big guys offensively.”
That recent comment was not the first time Self praised Braun. Far from it, in fact. And it likely won’t be the last time either.
Before summer workouts began, Self described the Blue Valley Northwest graduate as “a winner.” And Self was not merely referencing Braun’s role in helping BVNW win back-to-back-to-back Class 6A state titles in his final three seasons of high school.
“To be called a winner, from a guy like Coach Self, who is one of the biggest winners in college basketball history, means a lot,” Braun said.
One of the big reasons Braun picked Kansas in the first place is because he wants to play — and win — at the highest level. He believes Self is the right coach to help him achieve those goals, but he also knows he’s going to need help from his teammates to get there.
That tutelage began this summer and Braun loved every second of it.
“I have a lot of fun competing with Och (sophomore guard and former AAU teammate Ochai Agbaji) and with (senior guard) Marcus (Garrett), just because they make me so much better. Those guys teach me a lot of things that you can’t get just from coaching.”
Asked if he felt like Agbaji, Garrett and the rest of the KU upperclassmen had been easing him into things this summer, Braun flashed a bit of his competitive fire.
“I would hope they’re not taking it easy,” he said. “I’ve played with Och for a long time so I know Och and his game and I hope they’re not taking it easy on me because I want them to make me the best player possible. It’s been a good time and we’ve been competing a lot.”