Pay attention to Mara Braun — Kim Barnes Arico talks Michigan hoops — Must-click women’s basketball links

The IX: Basketball Wednesday with Howard Megdal, Dec. 7, 2022

Happy Basketball Wednesday! I am mostly writing this story about Mara Braun so I can point to it for many years to come and remind you all that I was right.

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I visited Williams Arena at U of M last month in part to take in the four freshmen, all from Minnesota, who represent the bright future for Lindsay Whalen’s program. All four — Braun, Amaya Battle, Mallory Heyer and Nia Holloway — are highly-regarded prospects, and the three who played (Holloway is injured and will miss the season) impressed me.

But Braun is at a different level. ESPN had her at 28th among incoming freshmen, and I am here to tell you, friends, there are not 27 better freshmen in the country than Mara Braun. There may not be one — though I do need to get a live look at Kiki Rice of UCLA, and will be seeing Te’Niya Latson of Florida State later this month.

Braun’s offensive profile is precisely what you’d look for in a guard/wing. She’s 6′, but with long arms and thus a wingspan that allows her to play up, guarding 1-4. There’s an intensity to the way she guards, too — in the picture above, the shooter had a clear look at the basket, before Braun closed out so fast she decided against taking the shot altogether.

She’s averaging 20.6 points per game so far, and she’s doing it efficiently — 53.3 percent from 2, north of 93 percent from the line, the latter making it likely her 30.9 percent mark from three will come up considerably before the season is over. The shot is quick and clean.

She has the ball in her hands plenty, but a turnover percentage of just 12.2 percent. Her steal percentage is 2.9 percent, and deflections are the coin of the realm for Braun, yet she’s committed just seven fouls all season.

And then there’s this — she seems to have a propensity for taking and making the big shot.

You look for athleticism as tools a player can convert into skills, eventually, but this is what she’s already doing with that athleticism against Power 5 competition.

There’s more about this production in Kent Youngblood’s story below in links.

Let’s be clear here: Mara Braun is going to be a first-round pick in a future WNBA Draft, as long as she stays healthy. This is an elite player, and a must-see one.

Why am I telling you? Because you should enjoy her however you can. But mostly, so that I can tell you for years that I was right.

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This week in women’s basketball

Great Maggie Hendricks piece on Olivia Miles.

Maggie Vanoni gets you ready for UConn-Princeton.

SIDs, do this: promo and insight all together in social shareable form.

Meredith Shiner’s podcast here on Sue Bird’s role as heir to American Jewish sports icons speaks to me.

Kent Youngblood on Mara Braun’s clutch gene.

Five at The IX: Kim Barnes Arico, Michigan head coach

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Howard Megdal

Howard is the founder of The Next and editor-in-chief.