Canyon Barry carries on father's legacy with underhand free throw

By Jeff Borzello | College Basketball Writer

There are plenty of things that separate Canyon Barry from the average college basketball player. The Charleston swingman grew his hair out over the summer, he skateboards to class, he's a physics major with a 4.0 GPA -- and he's also the son of former NBA great Rick Barry.

Oh, and Barry shoots his free throws underhanded.

Like father, like son.

"It's logic. If you have one of the greatest free throw shooters of all time, why wouldn't you do it like that?" Canyon said on Tuesday.

Rick Barry ranks No. 3 in NBA history in free-throw shooting, knocking down nearly 90 percent of his foul shots. He is also atop the ABA rankings, making slightly less than 88 percent of his free throws during his career.

Barry had five sons, but Canyon is the first to make the full-time move to shooting underhanded free throws.

"I always wanted to do that," he said. "But it wasn't until junior year of high school when I made the switch. The main problem is that you have to have big enough hands to grip the top of the ball. Why not give it a try, it was only a matter of time until my hands were big enough."

According to Barry, the lower angle of the shot allows for better bounces on the rim. It's a softer shot than a "normal" free throw, meaning he can control the spin of the ball easier. The lack of speed on the shot mostly prevents bad misses and long rebounds.

And it's working: a staff member at Charleston said Barry makes between 87 and 88 percent of his free throws.

It's been a year since Barry arrived on the Charleston campus, but he redshirted during his freshman season in order to focus on academics and also get his body ready for the college game. As a result, his teammates have already seen his unique free-throw style.

But everyone else? Well, there will certainly be some raised eyebrows in the crowd when the Cougars go on the road.

"Everyone takes a second glance, they all turn to each other, 'What the heck did that kid just do?' " Barry said. "You just don't see it anymore."

Barry's old-school style of free-throw shooting is par for the course for the 6-foot-6 Cheyenne Mountain (Colo.) product. Many of his decisions seem to be made with an eye looking at the past.

He decided to go to Charleston when Bobby Cremins recruited him because two of his half-brothers played for Cremins at Georgia Tech. The decision to redshirt? He had two half-brothers take redshirt seasons as freshmen, too.

"I definitely have a respect for the old style of play," Barry said. "Team play was better back in the day. I try to keep it pure."

Barry committed to the Cougars back in November 2011, but Cremins took a leave of absence two months later and eventually retired in March 2012. Doug Wojcik took over, and Barry stayed true to his commitment.

And it's a good thing he did: Charleston's schedule this season includes games against each of his parent's alma maters. The Cougars will host Miami, while also taking a trip to William & Mary, where Barry's mother has her jersey retired.

"That's obviously a cool thing," Barry said. "It's just a blessing to come from such a basketball-oriented family."

One aspect of Barry's life that certainly wouldn't vibe with the rest of his old-school attitude? His interest in singer Taylor Swift.

In fact, Barry and teammate Chad Cooke filmed a video of them lip-syncing to Swift's "Mean," hoping to win a contest.

"[Chad and I] are really good friends, and we love Taylor Swift. It's kind of a secret between us," Barry said. "It was just kind of a joke."

Opposing fans might think Barry's underhanded free-throw shooting is a joke, too.

Until they go in.

 
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