You might remember the name Brian Grawer as the scrappy guard from the University of Missouri who still today has his name all over the Tigers record books. You may remember him as the kid from that in 1997 took a team full of football players and carried them to a 26-7 record. Or perhaps you know him as a medical salesman who works for Baxter BioScience.
Yep, that’s the same guy.
After dipping his toes into the coaching waters immediately after graduating in 2001 from Mizzou, Grawer – a native of Creve Coeur – decided to go another direction.
“I actually majored in Education at Mizzou, but my degree is a Bachelors of Educational Studies. I didn’t complete my certificate, though,” said Grawer. “I couldn’t student teach (per the education department) because they said I would have been gone too many days because of basketball.”
To complete his teaching degree, Grawer was told he’d have to come back for another semester. For Grawer, though, everything has turned out fine.
“The teaching component was great, but I’m happy in my profession,” he said. “I guess it’s nice that if I did decide to teach I’d just have to get my student teaching done, but I’m happy.”
There was a time that Grawer considered following in the coaching footsteps of his father, Rich Grawer, who spent 12 years as the head basketball coach at before his 10 year run as coach of the St. Louis University Billikens. Immediately after graduating from Mizzou, Brian found his way down to Austin, Texas to St. Edwards University.
“I knew I wasn’t going to play (professionally),” he said. “I got that job right away and was there for one season before I went back to Missouri and was a graduate assistant under Coach (Quin) Snyder for two years.”
Those were a tumultuous couple of years in Columbia, and in that time Grawer saw some of the more challenging aspects of being a college coach.
“By then, I was married and I thought ‘do I want to live each year not knowing about my job and where I’ll be?’ Those were not aspects that I really embraced. There were a lot of things that opened my eyes, and I couldn’t envision myself dealing with all of that.”
When one of Grawer’s former Mizzou teammates, Kelly Thames, was named the head coach at Pattonville High School before the 2009-2010 season, the opportunity to coach once again presented itself.
“Kelly touched base and said anytime you want to come by the high school to stop in,” said Grawer. “And (activities director) Bob Hebrank asked if I was interested in being an assistant, but at this stage in my life I’m gone a lot and busy with work. I told him I can’t do anything halfway and declined. It would have been unfair to my employer and to the guys on the team.”
Mark Hahn, who was Grawer’s coach at Pattonville, says he doesn’t think his former pupil will ever get back into coaching – but says he’s certain it was something he could have done very well.
“I know he wanted to be a coach, so it didn’t surprise me that he got into,” said Hahn. “We’d have loved to have him come back to Pattonville, but he and I talk all the time and I think coaching is kind of out of his blood. He’s a family guy, and I respect him for that.”
It was clear to Hahn when he was coaching Grawer that he had what it takes to be a coach.
“He grew up around the game, so naturally he knew it,” said Hahn. “It’s great when your best player is also your hardest worker – the other kids follow that – and he was good about letting the guys know if they’d done something wrong. He’d get on them about it, but in a professional kind of way. The other kids respected him because they could see how hard he worked.”
Former Pattonville football star and current coach Brian Lewis was a sophomore when Grawer was a senior, and found himself in the same backcourt that season. For Lewis, it was obvious that Grawer was a special player.
“He led by example and didn’t talk a lot of trash,” said Lewis. “He showed what he had on the court.”
Lewis didn’t hesitate to compare the talents of Grawer with those of the many stars in the area that season – a group that came together and as teammates won an AAU National Championship. That team included not just Grawer, but Johnny Parker, Larry Hughes, Justin Tatum, Matt Baniak, Walter Moore, and John Redden.
“I thought he was in the top few in the state that year,” said Lewis. “You couldn’t compete with Larry Hughes, but I really didn’t think he had any better skills than Grawer – just the height. He was five or six inches taller than Grawer, who was six-foot on a good day. But as far as talent, I thought Grawer was the same. Anything Hughes could do, Brian could do just as well.”
All these years later, some of that hasn’t changed – just ask Grawer family friend Matt Pruett, who in recent months challenged Grawer to a game of H-O-R-S-E.
“I told him he had to take shots from outside the 3-point line and I could shoot from anywhere,” said Pruett. “It was actually just a game of P-I-G, and he literally needed only three shots. He hit each one – including one from almost half court. I didn’t hit anything, so it was a quick game.”
It wasn’t over.
“The next game was H-O-R-S-E, which I figured would take a little longer,” added Pruett. “Well, it did….five shots. He made every single one. I missed them all. The moral of the story? Never challenge one of the all-time 3-point shooters in Mizzou history to a game of P-I-G!”
When remembering that exhibition with his friend, Grawer quietly chuckled and humbly acknowledged the contest.
“I don’t play hardly at all anymore, other than helping out my dad with clinics here and there,” said Grawer. “My mind thinks I can do things at a certain level, but my body can’t. My brothers (Kevin and Rick, who also played college basketball) tell me your shooting will never leave. Everything else goes away… ball handling, that stuff. But the shooting never does.”
Pruett tends to agree, particularly about that shooting touch.
“He’s right,” he said. “The minute the ball hit his hands and I challenged him it was as if it took him right back to the long days in the gym working on his shot. He still has ‘IT’ and I’d take him on my team in a game of pick up any day.”