Isaiah Canaan: Fascinating Facts About Murray State Star

Richard Langford@@noontide34Correspondent IMarch 15, 2012

SAN JOSE, CA - MARCH 20:  Guard Isaiah Canaan #3 of the Murray State Racers reacts after a play against the Butler Bulldogs during the second round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at HP Pavilion on March 20, 2010 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Junior Isaiah Canaan is an undersized, score-first point guard from Murray State with a golden shooting touch and an incredible back story.

Largely due to the fact that his listing of 6' seems to be generous he has been nicknamed "Lil Sip." And he hasn't let small stature stop him from dominating college basketball. He led Murray State in scoring at 19.2 points a game, and after a 30-1 record, he and his Racers teammates are a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Canaan is one of the most deadly outside shooters on the planet. He shot 6.5 threes a game this season and drilled an amazing 47.3 percent of those attempts.

How good is Canaan at shooting? He is this good.

He hit that miraculous shot as a freshman and it didn't even phase him. I think he would have been upset with himself had he not made it.

Canaan will be poised and ready to keep that shooting stroke going in the tournament. After all, this is not his first rodeo. Murray State was in the tournament as a No. 13 seed his freshman season.

That year, he was the Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Year and the conference tournament MVP. He followed that up by scoring 18 points in his first NCAA Tournament game leading his team to an upset of Vanderbilt. 

They then lost their next game, by two, to Butler, and had to watch the Bulldogs take their "Cinderella slipper" and march to the Final Four. 

ESPN's Diamond Leung offered up this quote from Canaan on how Canaan has handled that tough loss. 

I watched that game over and over and over. I can tell it to you front to backwards, backwards to front. That's how much it pushed me to want to get better so that if I get in that moment again, I'll know what to do with it, and we'll come out with the victory.

While it makes for a good story that is not what truly sets Canaan apart. 

When he was in middle school, as Leung documents, he found himself stuck on the second story of a church next to his beloved grandmother—who couldn't swim—as the rising floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina kept climbing.  

Leung shared this reflection on the moment by Canaan. 

I saw my life flash right there. I was living or I wasn't. I've seen the worst it could get, and now I'm trying to see how good it can get.

The water stopped rising before it reached the frighten pair, but after it destroyed his grandmother's home.  

After the tragedy, Canaan spent time living in a church that he used to attend to sing in the choir. He then lived in the Atlanta area with his mother for a couple of months, but returned to help his grandmother rebuild. Keep in mind, he was still in middle school at this point.  

During all of this he used basketball as a distraction, and quickly began to dominate. While in high school he won a state championship and was a finalist for the Mr. Basketball award. 

He drew attention from some SEC schools, but opted for the smaller Murray State and hasn't looked back since. 


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