Mara Braun, a 5-foot-11 senior guard from Wayzata (MN) High, committed to Minnesota last December. She had a strong summer and moved up from #84 to the 28th best senior in the country by ESPN.
Bruan is part of a four-player recruiting class of local talent that are ranked as the second, third, fourth and fifth best players in the state. She will join Eden Prairie forward Nia Holloway, Chaska forward Mallory Heyer and Amaya Battle from Hopkins at Minnesota. Battle is ranked #38 by ESPN and Heyer moved up from #68 to #54 in the most recent rankings.
Minnesota will likely land their best recruiting class ever as they have commitments from three girls ranked among ESPN’s top 100. Iowa, Texas, UCLA, Washington and Wisconsin also have three commitments, while Louisville and UCLA have four each.
Braun averaged 18.2 points per game this past season, scoring in double figures in 16 of 17 games. She had eight games of 20 points or more points, including 31 against Eden Prairie. Braun went over 1,000 points in the contest.
Braun averaged 15.2 points per game as a sophomore and 11.2 points as a freshman for the Trojans.
Wayzata finished 11-7, losing to Hopkins 80-58 in the Section 6AAAA title game.
GopherHole recently caught up with Braun to learn more about her decision to attend Minnesota and upcoming senior season.
GopherHole: You were the first person to commit to the Class of 2022. What was the main reason that you decided that the Gophers was where you wanted to play college basketball?
Mara Braun: I knew from a young kid Minnesota was always my dream school and I grew up watching Lindsay Whalen. I was talking to my dad when I was younger and it was like if “Lindsay becomes a coach, would you consider it,” and it was kind of a no-brainer. So, for this, all to work out and they were recruiting me for a while. It just made sense and I didn’t want to drag anything out longer than I needed to.
GopherHole: I know Coach Whalen has made getting the top instate girls to stay in Minnesota a priority. Was that something that appealed to you to not only play close to home but get the program back to where it has been in the past?
Mara Braun: Yeah, when she played and they got to the Final Four with Coach Roysland. That’s where we are trying to bring this back to and I talked to Mallory, Amaya and Nia a while ago and we were like “we should make this happen,” and we did.
GopherHole: You were the third of four girls to commit to Minnesota. Were those two working on you and then did you work on Amaya to join you?
Mara Braun: I pretty much had made my decision. I just didn’t announce it yet, so when they did, I was like “I might as well,” and then we kind of worked on Amaya a little bit. We actually surprised her at one of her unofficials and I think that kind of sealed the deal.
GopherHole: You are working hard for your big senior season. What are the expectations for Wayzata this year?
Mara Braun: We are going to be young and we are just going to have to kind of change the way we’ve played in the past. We were big, so now we are just going to have to be more aggressive and pick and choose our areas of strengths and go with it.
GopherHole: You play in probably the toughest conference in Minnesota. You play Eden Prairie with Nia, Amaya at Hopkins and Edina. Do you think that helps you get ready for that next level, playing great competition on a regular basis?
Mara Braun: Oh yeah, there is no doubt. Every game is a struggle and there is top Division I players on every single team, so it just makes it a lot better and it will just prepare us for college.
GopherHole: What other things do you like to do away from the court?
Mara Braun: I do track in the spring and I’m also really involved in Club Unified, which partner special ed and regular ed students, so we do a lot of fun activities outside of school and I’ll start to work with Special Olympics, too.
GopherHole: Obviously, with track, you are working on skills like speed and explosiveness. Do you think that helps you a lot as a basketball player?
Mara Braun: Absolutely, in working different parts of your body. I’m a triple and long jumper, so I think that really shows in my game, too.
GopherHole: Do you also think that it helps you not get burned out from playing basketball 24/7?
Mara Braun: Yes and it keeps me conditioned, too.
GopherHole: You four commits are all very talented, but I think that you can play together. Is that something you have talked about being on the court at the same time?
Mara Braun: I played with Nia this past summer and we’ve gotten really close. With Mallory and Amaya, I think we all know each other’s games pretty well, so when we get to the “U,” I think we’ll all work really well together.
GopherHole: What is it going to play close to home and have your friends and family there?
Mara Braun: It’s going to mean a lot. I promised my parents and my grandparents that they’d be able to come watch me and making it only a 20, 30-minute drive for them is really going to be cool. Just being closer to the Wayzata community and having them all come and it’s going to really cool.
GopherHole: When you made your final choice, what schools were you down to?
Mara Braun: I think my finals were probably Iowa, Michigan and Maryland. A lot of Big Ten schools. I also talked to Arizona, but Minnesota was just the perfect fit for me.