For any younger fans who may not be familiar with Rick Barry, he’s a basketball legend with an absolutely amazing hoops résumé.
Over the course of his 14-year career in the NBA and ABA, the Hall of Famer averaged 24.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2 steals while shooting 45.6 percent from the field and 89.3 percent from the free-throw line (underhanded, of course). He won championships in the NBA and ABA. Combining his accolades from both leagues, he was a 12-time All-Star and 9-time First-Team selection. He’s also the only player in history to lead the NCAA, NBA and ABA in scoring, and he did so efficiently.
Barry also has outstanding genes, as evidenced by the fact that all five of his sons have followed in his footsteps and played professional basketball. His oldest son is Scooter Barry, who won a national title at Kansas and played professionally for 17 years. Jon Barry was a first-round pick in 1992 and played 14 seasons in the NBA. Brent Barry was a first-round pick in 1995 and won two NBA championships (as well as the slam dunk contest) throughout the course of his 14-year NBA career. Drew Barry was a second-round pick in 1996 and played three seasons in the NBA and then went on to play professionally overseas.
Now, a fifth son hopes to carry on the family tradition: Canyon Barry.
Canyon spent three years playing for the College of Charleston before transferring to Florida for his senior year. As a junior at Charleston, he averaged 19.7 points in 31.9 minutes (while shooting 40.2 percent from the field, 33.3 percent from three-point range and 84.5 percent from the free-throw line).
As a senior at Florida, he accepted a diminished role, but still contributed 11.4 points in 21.3 minutes and improved his shooting to 42.2 percent from the field, 33.6 percent from three and 88.3 percent from the charity stripe. And, just like his dad, he shoots his free throws underhanded.
Barry’s PER (21.1), Offensive Rating (120.1) and Defensive Rating (98.8) displayed his impact for the Gators, and he earned a reputation for being an unselfish player who’s willing to accept any role.
“I just do whatever it takes to win,” Barry told HoopsHype. “I’m not worried about personal stats or my own personal agenda. Everything is for the team. I’m also a good culture guy; on and off the court, you’re never going to have any issues with me.”
Now, Canyon is looking to prove that he can be a productive role player at the next level.
Barry recently participated in the Professional Basketball Combine – a new “secondary combine” for under-the-radar prospects who need exposure since they’re projected to go undrafted or late in the second round. Twenty-three prospects participated and they were put through athletic tests, measurements, drills and 3-on-3 action. Front-office personnel from 16 NBA teams were at the event, and Canyon did everything he could to stand out.
It didn’t take long for him to turn heads. Barry finished second among all players in max vertical (42.25 inches), second in the shuttle run (2.5 seconds), third in the three-quarter sprint (3.18 seconds) and fourth in the lane-agility drill (10.64). He measured in at 6-foot-6 with a 6-foot-10 wingspan and 8-foot-3 standing reach. Scouts who spoke on the condition of anonymity admitted that Barry’s results exceeded their expectations.
“I think his athleticism surprised everyone at the combine,” Professional Basketball Combine trainer James Fraschilla said. “He showed it on the court too, because the very first play of his 3-on-3 session was him dunking on a guy.”
When it came time to play, Barry shot 60 percent from the field and made a number of impressive hustle plays. At one point, a loose ball was heading toward the stands where all of the executives were seated. Without any hesitation, Barry dove for the ball and ended up slamming his head against the bottom row of the stands. He got up as if nothing happened and resumed play immediately. At the very least, Canyon showed that he’s willing to do be an energy guy and do what his team needs – even if that means sacrificing his body at times.
“It was an honor to be invited to an event like this and I looked at it as an opportunity,” Barry said. “You have to go out and just play the way you know how, and show the intangibles: effort, energy and a positive attitude. I just tried to make the most of this opportunity.”
“I think he really showed some stuff that he wasn’t necessarily able to show at Florida,” Fraschilla added. “He also shot the ball well, got the rim and finished through contact. I think he definitely impressed a lot of people in attendance.”
He clearly intrigued some talent evaluators, as the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards among other teams interviewed Canyon at the combine. Other teams have scheduled workouts too.
Canyon’s high basketball IQ was also on display during the 3-on-3 action. Barry’s intelligence is one of his biggest strengths, even if he’s very modest when it comes to discussing this.
“I did some hard majors,” Barry said (in what is an extreme understatement). “My Master’s is in Nuclear Engineering, so it’s nice to be focusing on jump-shots instead of neutron multiplicity and reactor theory.”
When asked about some of the difficult classes he’s taken, Canyon mentioned Physics, Quantum Mechanics, Electrodynamics, Reactor Physics and Radiation Detection among others. Curious about how he managed to pass these courses while juggling his basketball commitments, I asked if he was willing to share his GPA.
“4.0,” Barry said with a smile. “Never got a B.”
But in the same breath, he stressed that “basketball comes first.” His dream is to have a long playing career and then put his Nuclear Engineering degree to use many years from now.
Right now, his learning has shifted from the classroom to the gym. He feels he still has a lot of room to grow as a player, especially now that he can focus all of his time on basketball.
“I think my potential is limitless; I haven’t played my best basketball yet,” Barry said. “I think it’s still ahead of me, so I’m just trying to continue to develop and get better year after year.”
One specific thing he’s trying to improve his consistency from NBA three-point range. There were times during last week’s combine that he got hot and knocked down shot after shot from beyond the arc, but he wants to be less streaky and become a knockdown shooter.
“Obviously being able to shoot the NBA three is so important nowadays,” Barry said. “And while I know I’m a good shooter, I’ve been getting a lot of reps just so I can extend my range even further and be more efficient. I’m also working on creating more shots off the bounce. I’m more of a system guy, so I’m working on creating my own shots. That’s been a focus on my training.”
Off the court, Barry is a student of the game and does his homework (which isn’t a surprise given his academic success). He studies Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson and tries to pick up some of his techniques.
“There are a lot of great players now, but someone I specifically try to watch a lot and model my game after is Klay Thompson,” Barry said. “He’s great at moving without the ball, he’s obviously a great shooter, he knows how to get open, and he doesn’t necessarily need a lot of dribbles to score and be productive.”
Of course, Barry also has plenty of family members who can help him as he goes through this journey. While some players have no idea what to expect leading up to the draft, Barry’s father and brothers have been in his position. They’ve been able to prepare him for each step of this process and keep him from getting overwhelmed.
“With my dad and four brothers playing professional basketball, I know what it takes to be successful at the next level,” Barry said. “I understand the game really well and I know the way it’s supposed to be played, which is a benefit for me. They’ve all been through everything that I’m going through now, which is nice because I can look to them for advice and see what they did in certain situations. It’s been great to be able to talk to them and pick their brain.”
Barry knows that making it to the NBA won’t be easy. He’s 23 years old, which is relatively old by draft-prospect standards. However, with his intelligence, skill set and team-first attitude, it seems likely that Canyon will be playing professional basketball somewhere next season. Whether that’s in the NBA, D-League or overseas, he should be able to make an immediate impact for his team with his high basketball IQ and willingness to do the dirty work.
And every team obviously needs a guy who can explain neutron multiplicity, so Barry has that going for him as well.