|Murray State coach Steve Prohm's future was tied to Isaiah Canaan's. (US Presswire)|
Isaiah Canaan was vacationing during the time Mississippi State pursued his coach, but the Murray State point guard still paid attention to what was happening. Because it wasn't just Steve Prohm's future hanging in the balance, you see? Canaan's basically was, too.
"If he left, I was gone," Canaan told me by phone Monday night after spending part of his 21st birthday attending an 8 a.m. class that was followed by a workout on the court and in the weight room. "But he decided to stick it out, and so I felt comfortable doing the same."
Canaan became, with that decision, the lone CBSSports.com First Team All-American to return to school, meaning he'll enter the 2012-13 season as one of college basketball's stars. He'll receive plenty of preseason accolades and a magazine cover or three. And though none of that will ensure a fourth straight Ohio Valley Conference championship or trip to the NCAA tournament, it still serves as a reminder of just how far this Mississippi native has come in the past year thanks to averaging 19.2 points per game for a team that finished 31-2.
"Everything has changed significantly," Canaan said. "I've grown as a person, and with the season we had I've gone from being a regular player to a player a lot of people look up to now, and it's an honor because you always dream about things like this. So I've just been trying to push myself to be the player people see in me.
"I know I've got a big load to carry," Canaan added. "It's a challenge. But I like challenges."
Canaan's decision to return to Murray State was one of the draft deadline's most interesting developments because it flew in the face of the strike-while-you're-hot mentality so many out-of-nowhere stars possess. No, he wasn't guaranteed to be a first-round pick, but he might've been considering most describe this as a weak draft for point guards.
Which point guards would've been selected ahead of Canaan?
Definitely Weber State's Damian Lillard.
Maybe North Carolina's Kendall Marshall and Kentucky's Marquis Teague.
But the list isn't terribly long.
There was money to be made somewhere.
But Canaan hasn't spent a moment thinking about what he might've passed on since he decided to pass on it. He's instead been consistently working out so that he can take advantage of an invitation to participate in next month's Deron Williams Skills Academy before capitalizing on a senior season during which he'll try to prove he's worthy of the attention he'll receive despite playing in a league that typically prevents such things.
"I started to go ahead and chase the dream, but something told me to just wait it out," Canaan said. "Steve Prohm has done so much for me. So I just told him that I'll stick it out with him one more year, finish school and hopefully better myself as a basketball player."