Taylor Braun’s Road To Fargo
Photo by J. Alan Paul Photography
In 2009, the NDSU men’s basketball team was coming off its first ever Summit League Tournament Championship and first NCAA Tournament appearance. It was a special group of players that were not highly recruited by other colleges. That team was a great example of showing just how difficult it is to project how players will develop. As a mid-major program, finding players throughout the country who are off the radar can be a challenge.
North Dakota State has taken advantage of many promising athletes whom other schools thought were too slow, too short, too weak, or too clumsy. Head Coach Saul Phillips says they have not been in a lot of fierce recruiting battles for players, but the Bison have consistently found talent. NDSU senior Taylor Braun is a perfect example. He was a young, tall, wiry kid that showed some leaping ability and athleticism but not enough to warrant much recruiting interest from Division I schools.
Phillips had an extra scholarship in his pocket for the late signing period in spring of 2009 after missing out on a couple of other recruits. He found Braun out in Newberg, Oregon, thanks to connections in the area from Assistant Coaches Will Ryan and Jason Kemp. The coaching staff watched film of Braun and learned he had family in the area (a grandfather who’s a crop duster of all things), so they brought him out for a campus visit.
Most coaches spend months and even years recruiting players to come to their program. Phillips spent all of two weeks recruiting Braun before he committed to NDSU in April of 2009. This was his only Division I scholarship offer.
Braun was only 17 years old when he stepped foot on campus and red-shirted. He was homesick that first year on campus, but stuck with it and found his place. After working out with former Bison guard Ben Woodside over the summers, Braun made steady improvements.
He has flourished the past couple of seasons, leading the Bison in scoring as a Junior and was selected as the Summit League Pre-Season Player of the Year as a senior.
Braun’s story is similar to many others that have found their way to NDSU. Guards Lawrence Alexander and Kory Brown were overlooked throughout most of their high school careers, but have proved to be critical components to a Bison squad that is one of the top mid-major teams in the country.
More than anything else, this story proves that having 4 or 5 stars behind your name as a high school recruit doesn’t mean anything. Braun has made the most of his opportunity and has a chance to lead the Bison back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five years.
Brian Shawn is the play-by-play announcer for the Bison football and basketball teams.