The last time a player from Murray State was drafted was back in 1996, when the Portland Trailblazers chose Marcus Brown with the 46th pick. 17 years later Isaiah Canaan (a.k.a. "Sip") looks to not only be one of the 60 players selected but possibly sneak into the first round.
In an interview with ESPN, former Racer coach Billy Kennedy admitted that Canaan had never heard of Murray State until the recruiting process. But even after SEC schools started to target the Biloxi native, Canaan signed with the OVC powerhouse out of Calloway County, Kentucky. Four years later, he has become one of the most celebrated players in the school's illustrious history.
School: Murray State (Murray, KY | Ohio Valley Conference)
Homtown: Biloxi, Mississippi
Accolades: Bob Cousy and Oscar Robertson Award finalist. OVC Player of the Year 2012 and 2013. OVC Tournament MVP 2010. 2011 Great Alaska Shootout MVP. OVC Player of the Week (Several times) College Insider Mid-Major Freshmen All-American Team (2010) Preseason AP All-American (2012) Holds the record for most three pointers in Murray State history.
Team Record: 106-26
When Isaiah Canaan signed with Murray State, Billy Kennedy and company knew they were getting a talented player. Isaiah came out of Biloxi High School averaging 24 points per game and was a finalist for the Gatorade Player of the Year. Although some may have anticipated Isaiah being a great player, many may have underestimated the kind of impact he would make right away.
During his Freshman season, Canaan played on a 3l-win team and averaged over 10 points per game. His three point shooting was better than expected, shooting nearly 50% from behind the arc. He was named the MVP of the OVC Tournament and in the two NCAA Tournament games, shot an amazing 6 of 7 from three. However, Isaiah left two memories from the 2009-2010 season. The first was a shot from halfcourt on his knees in a game versus Southeast Missouri. The second was turning the ball over versus Butler in the closing seconds of the round of 32 in the NCAA tourney.
Canaan continued to improve and mid-way through his third year, Isaiah Canaan was a name used frequently in college basketball. He scored 30 or more points four times during his Junior season and ended the year as the 24th leading scorer. Going into his Senior season a lot hype surrounded "Sip" and with the loss of Zay Jackson, Isaiah was now the only true ball handler the Racers had. He was double-teamed every game and still managed to put up big numbers.
Isaiah Canaan hits a 3-pointer to beat Belmont (via LakerRacer)
FINAL SEASON AVERAGES:
22.4 pts...4.3 asts...3.4 rebs...1.6 steals...0.1 blocks...3.3 turnovers...37.1 mins...48.9% FG...37.1% 3 PT...82.3% FT
BEYOND THE STATS:
Many folks out there know Isaiah Canaan for his ability to shoot the basketball. However, shooting may not even be what he's best at. We all know Isaiah can hit from almost anywhere on the court but he's top strength is probably his ball handling skills. All last season we watched as Isaiah weaved through double teams in impressive fashion. We watched as he gracefully slipped to the basket after taking his man off the dribble and at times slice his way into the lane for a kick-out to an open teammate. Which brings me to his next best ability and that's passing. Canaan on an NBA team with a couple of shooters to pass to in the corner could be a scary thing.
WEAKNESSES AND CONCERNS:
Canaan's height obviously didn't effect him too much at the college level but in the NBA where guards can be as tall as 6'6" it becomes more of a problem. Isaiah can get up but so can every other guard in the league. It may not be because of his height but Isaiah has never been a real lock down defender. Which is why I never understood the local fans wanting to see Isaiah go to Memphis, a team known for its defensive play.
Some have said Canaan is early second round or maybe this years Damian Lillard and although there is no consensus on where "Sip" will end up, my choice would be San Antonio. It may just be wishful thinking because by the looks of it, this may be the only way Canaan gets picked in the first round, unless the Jazz take him at 21 but that seems unlikely. A few of the experts have Canaan going to Cleveland to play along side Kyrie Irving, which wouldn't be a bad place for Isaiah to be a sixth man and that would put him as the first pick in the second round.
This Thursday, June 27th 2013: The NBA Draft.
Isaiah Canaan - 2013 NBA Draft (via hoopsworld)