NBA Hall of Famer Rick Barry had arguably the most unorthodox, yet effective, free-throw deliveries in the history of professional basketball.
Shooting them underhanded — “granny style” — he drilled 90 percent of his career chances from the stripe, good for the fourth-best mark in NBA history. And Thursday, his son, former Florida and Cheyenne Mountain High School guard Canyon Barry, was putting the same motion on display during a Nuggets pre-draft workout at the Pepsi Center.
“I kinda always knew I was gonna switch (to underhand),” Canyon Barry said. “Logic would dictate (it), if you have one of the greatest free-throw shooters of all-time as your personal free-throw coach.”
With his feet shoulder-width apart and the ball centered with his abdomen, Barry gives a slight cock of his wrist, squats and when he stands back up, he thrusts the ball forward with a backward rotation — all in one fluid motion.
Canyon started shooting with the method his father became famous for as a junior at Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs as a junior in 2010-11, where he made 75 percent of his attempts. That trend continued in college, shooting 88 percent from the line in his senior season at Florida last year. He set the school record with 42 consecutive free throws made.
“It’s great to be home,” Barry said. “Spent all my life in (Colorado Springs) and just being able to come back and see the family and obviously to workout with the Nuggets, who I watched growing up since I was a kid, is awesome.”
It’s not just his father that played basketball at the highest level. His four older brothers all played professional basketball — most notably Jon and Brent, who both played more than a decade in the NBA.
Canyon has proved that he can play a little, too. He was the SEC Sixth Man of the Year and the second-leading scorer for a Florida Gators squad that made the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. He was a ‘go-to’ guy in his first three collegiate seasons at the College of Charleston. As a junior, he averaged a team-leading 19.7 points on more than 40 percent from the field.
But the most eye-opening aspect of his offensive game are his free throws.
Hayden Graham, a forward from Air Force, went through shooting drills with Barry on Thursday. He’d seen granny shooting on TV, but watching it in-person initially threw him off guard.
“Standing there at the free-throw line, he actually did it and I was like, ‘Yo!’” said Graham with a laugh. “But he’s a great dude. He can shoot the ball, he’s athletic so he’s got a bright future.”
Maybe more of a surprise than his free-throw shooting is his blemish-less academic record. Barry had a 4.0 GPA in college and high school. He’s never had a B. He graduated summa cum laude from the College of Charleston and received a Master’s in Nuclear Engineering from Florida.
But for now, Barry hopes to continue the family basketball tradition.
He’s seen the blessing and opportunities it’s given to his loved ones. Championship rings, All-Star appearances and an NBA Slam Dunk trophy. Not projected to be drafted next week, he just wants the chance to continue carrying the Barry torch.
“I’m fortunate enough to hopefully be able to play at the highest level and just to continue to give to the game to see what it gives back to me,” he said.